Poker Grows Beyond Diwali Nights
Poker Sports League’s fifth season on JioCinema marked a milestone for poker in India, transitioning from casual college dorm games to a formalized online industry. The league offers a platform for players, both professional and beginners, to compete in a team-based format and win substantial prizes. Despite the ongoing debate over poker’s classification as skill-based or chance-based, the industry is thriving. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is estimated at 16.9%, projected to reach $346 million by 2030.
Online Poker Platforms Flourish
The poker scene is driven by numerous online platforms catering to players of all skill levels. With 28 startups dedicated to hosting poker games in India, PokerBaazi stands out as the largest. Despite its growth, recent challenges loom over the industry. The decision to impose a 28% GST on bets and varying state regulations pose threats. Larger companies may adapt, but newer entrants could struggle.
Shift to Apps and Pandemic Impact
The shift from offline to app-based poker was pivotal, enabling easier access. The pandemic further boosted participation. Kanchan Sharma’s journey from techie to professional player exemplifies the game’s appeal. However, perceptions of poker as a chance-based game persist, hindering its mainstream acceptance.
Regulation and Stigma
Regulation remains a major obstacle. While some states have banned poker, others have adopted specific laws. The Public Gaming Act and offshore platforms add complexity. Female participation remains low due to stigma, and disparities between male and female players persist.
The growth of online poker platforms draws players from various cities. Virtual poker’s accessibility and offline poker’s interpersonal thrill ensure a continued presence in India’s gaming landscape. However, addressing regulatory challenges and social perceptions is crucial for sustainable growth.
Summing it up
Poker’s journey in India from dormitories to mainstream online platforms has been transformative. The industry’s growth potential is promising, despite challenges posed by taxes, regulations, and social stigma. Overcoming these hurdles will be essential for poker to fully realize its potential as a thriving and inclusive gaming segment.