The poker craze appears to have finally caught on to the Indian market as the market for both offline and online poker has grown considerably during the last couple of years all over India. The country which has a population of over 1.3 billion people could turn out to be one of the most lucrative markets for poker providers should the government decide to legalize the industry.
At present, only the states of Karnataka, Sikkim and Goa have legalized poker while other states such as Kerala and Hyderabad continue to discuss the possibility of legalizing the game. Gambling is banned in India and poker in many states is still considered as a game of chance. Poker lobbyists are looking to chance that perception by promoting the game as a game of skill but have an uphill task to convince legislators to amend state gambling laws and allow poker players the freedom to play legally.
Adda52.com is India’s biggest online poker website and boasts as many as 600,000 users. There are many young poker players who have decided to quit their full-time jobs and pursue an online poker career on Adda52. The company is also looking to expand its presence all over India and capitalize on a growing market which is currently being exploited by underground poker providers. It is no secret that underground poker clubs operate in plush communities all over Mumbai, Delhi, Gurgaon and Kolkatta.
These underground poker clubs have a select group of clients who receive invites to these poker games. The authorities are often paid off by these clubs and turn a blind eye to these poker clubs. Poker players who attend these games are usually between the age group of 20 to 40 and play long sessions trying to make as much money as they can. Most of them end up losing a lot of money in these sessions and the house rakes in a lot of money in the process.
A number of young Indians have picked up their love for poker after going abroad to study in the United States. They played poker in their dorms and various casinos around the U.S and after coming back to India want to continue playing poker.
An underground poker player who preferred to be anonymous said “Look, it’s not just the cards. I know how to read people now. I remember the patterns—I know how a player looks away when he bets or how he throws his chips or how he gives a fake smile.”
A number of state governments realize that the poker industry is a lucrative market that will bring them another stream of revenue in gaming taxes and are looking to legalize the industry but there is no indication as to how long that could take.