Strong growth in online card games in India

News on 30 Sep 2018

Indian financial media reports over the weekend indicate that online card games are showing remarkable revenue growth rates of between 50 to 100 percent y-o-y, with analysts predicting that Rs 11,880 crore (1 crore = 10 million) is achievable by 2023.

In recent times, online gaming, particularly card games, has seen traction in the country and is currently estimated by KPMG to be worth Rs 4,380 crore (FY18), projected to grow at a CAGR of 22.1 percent to touch Rs 11,880 crore by FY2023.

The numbers indicate that within this sector Teen Patti and Rummy are popular card games; however, when it comes to real money, Poker is becoming increasingly dominant.

The Indian Supreme Court has ruled Rummy and Teen Patti as games of skill, but opinion on Poker remains divided across judicial, lawmakers and enforcers across the country. This inconsistency is perceived as a risk factor and an impediment to raising awareness about online gaming, Mohit Agarwal, co-founder online poker platform Adda52 said.

“Big TV channels or other major platforms still resist taking poker ads,” he observed. “But things have improved. If earlier we had 10 channels ready to put a poker ad, up, now there are 50.” According to Agarwal, about 100,000 players actively play real money poker in India, primarily SEC A users in the 25-40 year age group.

Competition is growing in the Indian online poker space, which currently generates around Rs 700 crore in revenues, with PokerStars being the most recent prominent entrant into the market. But according to Amin Rozani, chief executive of Spartan Poker, that is not particularly a matter for concern at present.

“We have our own expertise and know the local market very well, Rozani opined. “The more platforms that enter the market, the better it is for the sport.”

Big business corporates have also shown an interest in the development of tournaments; FMCG giant Dabur’s vice-chairman Amit Burman has invested close to Rs 20 crore to develop the Poker league in India and notes:. “I believe Poker is a sport, not gambling. This is the reason for forming a team and developing a tournament where franchises play against each other. That is how Poker Sports League (PSL) started two years back,”

Eleven franchises took part in the second season of PSL which ended in June. Prize money worth Rs 4.4 crore was distributed among the winners.

“We had Viswanathan Anand as our brand ambassador, who went on camera and said poker is a game of skill and not chance. Next season we will up the prize money to Rs 7.25 crore,” Burman adds.

In India, gambling laws are determined by the respective states. High courts in West Bengal, Nagaland and Karnataka judged poker as a game of skill, allowing it to be played in those states. At the same time, in Gujarat and Telangana the courts judged it as a game of chance.

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