Online gaming has enjoyed stellar growth in India during the last few years with the industry now estimated to be Rs 4,380 crore. Auditing firm KPMG says the industry is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 22.1%, eventually reaching Rs 11,880 crore by FY2023. Online card games in particular are seeing a 50-100% growth year on year.
Mixed Opinion on Poker
While popular games such as Teen Patti and Rummy are generally considered a game of skill in India, there is mixed opinion on poker throughout the country. Corporate lawyer and Glaws founder Jay Sayta says online poker is prohibited in the states of Assam and Odisha.
Furthermore, depositing and withdrawing winning money are also not allowed in a bank account located in the states of Telangana or Gujarat. You can do so outside the two states but a 30% TDS is charged for withdrawals above RS 10,000. Playing on international platforms is also against FEMA guidelines and violators could be penalized.
Mohit Agarwal, co-founder of Adda52, one of the biggest online poker websites in India says raising awareness about online gaming is being hindered by a gambling perception being thrown against poker. That is changing quickly as television channels are now willing to carry poker ad’s which will help popularize the game. Since poker is growing at a rapid rate in the country and generating the most amount of revenue in online gambling, proponents of poker such as the Indian Poker Association (IPA) are pushing for poker to be made legal in as many states as possible.
Top Names Endorse Poker In India
In efforts to promote poker as a sport rather than gambling, a number of corporations are also pouring in their investments, including Amit Burman – Vice-Chairman of leading FMCG firm Dabur. Burman’s investment of nearly Rs 20 crore helped in the development of India’s first ever poker league, the Poker Sports League (PSL) which started two years ago.
PSL’s brand ambassador, Indian chess grandmaster and former World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand, is publicly promoting poker as a game of skill rather than chance. The second season of PSL which ended in June saw as many as 11 franchises taking part, with prize money worth Rs 4.4 crore distributed among the winners.
West Indian cricketer Chris Gayle recently signed up as a brand ambassador with Adda52 and is also looking to educate the public about poker being a game of skill and not chance. Each state in India implements its own gambling laws. Currently online poker is allowed in the states of West Bengal, Karnataka and Nagaland and poker campaigners hope that many more states will be added in the months to come.