India's Gambling And Poker IndustryAugust 24, 2011 8:39 am
The sub-continent of India would represent a vast market for many businesses with over 1.2 billion people and an economy which is the tenth largest in the world at $1.53 trillion.
However, one industry which is only partially permitted, while being heavily restricted in the country is gambling. In India only the states of Goa (S-W) and Sikkim (in the Himalayas) allow casino gambling,
Aside from lotteries and horse racing, sports betting and online gambling are not permitted, with ISP’s responsible for blocking offshore betting sites.
In total, India’s gambling market is estimated to be around $60 billion per annum, of which half is illegal gambling, with $20 billion derived from online gaming.
Presently, only offshore casinos in India are allowed to run live gambling tables with land casinos restricted to electronic machines. Therefore, most casinos in India are based offshore in Goa, with poker accounting for just a small percentage of their earnings.
However, there are now signs that poker is gaining in popularity in India, with more and more people viewing it as a social and recreational activity. As Madhav Gupta whose business operates the Casino Pride poker room in Goa explains:
“We are seeing a rise in the number of players turning to poker. Beyond just the 18-25 year olds we are also seeing players over the age of 40 who are moving from flush (teen patti) to poker.”
Gupta then goes on to explain how organised poker tournament are now beginning to gain momentum inside the casinos, which then benefit from increased number of visitors who, once eliminated from the tournament, often play cash games. He also highlights the fact that over the past year average tournament attendances have gone up from around 25 players to now over a 100.
The signs are certainly there that a poker boom in India may now only be around 5 years away, but Madhav Gupta has no doubt that the writing is on the wall. As he comments:
“It is going to happen slowly, but it will happen.”