India’s largest online poker site, Adda52, is bringing a competitive element to tournament poker with the introduction of the country’s first poker sports league.
Following the enactment of the Nagaland Prohibition of Gambling and Promotion and Regulation of Online Games of Skill Bill back in April 2016, India is now enjoying a mini online poker boom.
Just before the holidays, the Nagaland State Lotteries office handed out its first two online gaming licenses to Khelo365 and Pokabunga.
Thanks to the classification of poker as a skill game in West Bengal, Karnataka, and Nagaland, as well as betting being legalized in Sikkim, a large number of players can now ante-up online legally. With other states likely to follow and operators looking to capitalize on the recent legal changes, Adda52 has teamed up with the Vice Chairman of Dabur India, Amit Buman, to create the Poker Sports League.
Using a Global Model
Taking inspiration from the Global Poker League (which hasn’t yet moved into India), the new competition will see 12 teams from across India compete in a series of online and live matches.
Although just seven of the 12 teams had been finalized at the time of writing, the organizers hope to have the initial framework completed by the end of January.
As well as established poker pros and celebrities being part of the mix, the 9-player strong teams will also feature qualifiers. Thanks to a selection of freerolls that run from February to the end of April, amateurs and aspiring pros can try to win their place onto one of the 12 registered teams.
Any players that do make it into the Poker Sports League will then compete in a variety of poker matches with team members (expect wild cards) receiving a fixed salary on top of additional prize money worth a total of $490,000.
As well as owners taking charge of their teams and recruiting the finest talent, 12 regions will be represented. This concept of promoting skill and local representation is something that Global Poker League has already shown to be a successful model and it could be a way for India to legitimize poker as a sport.
Sport the Key to Poker’s Success in India
To become accepted as a mainstream activity and not be seen as a form of “gambling,” poker operators need to find ways to highlight the skill aspect of poker.
Indeed, according to Trak.in (who originally reported on the story), the winners of the league will need to use “lots of brain power, calculations and luck.”
Describing poker in this way has been crucial for the recent legalization of the game in three major regions and, potentially, future regulation across more parts of the country. Although online poker is still a budding enterprise in India, the potential for growth is huge.
If sites like Adda52 can mimic popular sports leagues, such as the Indian Premier League (cricket), and convince Indians that it’s a sport they can both watch and play, then the market could grow immensely in the coming years.