The state of online poker market in India is robust and improving year on year.
In 2017, the Indian gaming Industry’s market value was about USD 290 million, with over 120 million online gamers, as per a study by KPMG in India and Google published in May 2017.
Market Size and Players
The estimated value of the online poker space in India is about INR 700 crore.
There are large players in the market like Spartan Poker, Poker-Baazi and Adda52, who are changing the face of this game by promoting it as a sport.
Even business tycoons and celebrities are participating in the growing market. Raj Kundra and Shilpa Shetty have recently launched an online poker platform called Poker Raj.
Foreign direct investment is not permitted in online poker startups. Even the software has to be based in India, and hence tech collaborations are also not permitted. Online poker companies are supposed to pay a service tax to the government.
Poker’s legality varies from one state to another.
It is legal to play poker in West Bengal, Karnataka and Nagaland, as their high courts have ruled poker to be a game of skill.
Online poker is illegal in Assam and Odisha, and one can be penalised for playing.
In Goa, poker can be played only in casinos.
In Gujarat and Telangana, high courts declared poker to be a game of chance, and hence one cannot withdraw or deposit poker winnings in a bank account in these states.
However, in the rest of the states, including where it is legal, one can play online poker, but they have to pay a TDS of 30.3 percent on their winning withdrawals above INR 10,000.
While poker’s legality is under so much scrutiny, as per Supreme Court’s rulings, Rummy and Teen Patti are considered games of skill throughout the country.
In the online poker industry, even corporate leaders have started participating. Amit Burman, Vice-chairman of Dabur, invested around INR 20 crore to set up Poker Sports League (PSL) in 2017.
In this tournament, 12 franchises compete against one another. Each team has an owner, a captain and nine more players.
The prize money for PSL in 2018 was INR 4.4 crore, which might increase to INR 7.25 crore in the next season.
The state of online poker market in India does seem promising from business, legal and players’ perspective.