PokerStars switches focus to new Indian opportunity
This week PokerStars CEO, Rafi Ashkenazi, confirmed PokerStars would be expanding operations to India. The move shows PokerStars intends to capitalise on the fast-growing Indian casino market. Referring to India as a “booming country”, Ashkenazi told reporters, “we want to make sure we are the market leader (in India) when it comes to poker.”
It’s not surprising that PokerStars are openly turning their attention to India. Last year, Indian states were granted the freedom to legalise online poker after the Supreme Court removed a ban on ‘games of skill’. But even before online gaming got the go-ahead, poker had been growing in popularity in India. Especially amongst younger people who identified it as a strategic game with the potential for financial reward.
PokerStars will be going into partnership with another online casino that already has a license to trade in India. PokerStars has chosen not to release the details of their new partner. Except for a few regions, the partnership is expected to give PokerStars access to most of the Indian market.
The growth of online gaming in India
India’s online gaming industry will grow significantly in the run up to 2021. KPMG estimates that over the next three years the country will accrue 190 million online gamblers, which would make India one of the largest casino markets in the world. Many of the country’s gamers are expected to play via their mobiles (India will soon reach 400 million smartphone users).
The news of PokerStars’ arrival won’t only delight Indian poker players, but will also please those responsible for the Indian economy. Research conducted by Playwin in 2010 found that online gambling would be worth $5 billion if legalised in India. The recent interest of PokerStars shows that they too recognise the potential of the market.
PokerStars stands to create a profitable revenue source by tapping into India. In a country where the online poker start-up industry is already worth $120 million, the game is increasing in popularity at a phenomenal rate. By seeking out the thirst for a strategic game with money at stake, PokerStars have surely made a sound decision. Most likely other online casinos will follow in PokerStars’ footsteps, bringing the Indian and global gambling community closer together.