2020 is shaping up to be a breakout year for poker in India as prize pools start to surpass those on offer in Europe.
Although online activity in India still trails that seen in Europe, Spartan Poker is making a play with its India Online Poker Championship (IOPC).
Building on what it achieved in July, the 10th IOPC will feature a guaranteed prize pool of more than 16 Crore ($2.4 million).
Industry Dynamics Are Changing
The online festival gets underway on Jan.24, and will run until Feb. 9. The highlight of the series will be a main event with a $422,000 guarantee.
In addition to breaking the record for the richest online MTT in India, the main event stands as an example of how poker’s dynamics are shifting.
Almost in tandem with the IOPC, European operators 888 and Unibet will host their own online events in February. The former will reprise its XL series with a $1.4 million prize pool, while Unibet Poker’s Online Series VII will award at least $445,000.
In terms of daily traffic, both 888 and Unibet dwarf their India-based online poker counterpart. At the time of writing, 888 had a cash game peak of 1,907 players, while the latter had 900. In contrast, Spartan Poker currently attracts 477 daily grinders.
Despite that, Spartan is investing in the future of online poker in India. As an emerging nation with a population of more than one billion, India could thrive as a gaming hub. This is something Spartan Poker and its peers are banking on.
Investing in India
Although traffic and revenue may not be up to European standards just yet, India’s poker industry is growing. That sits in stark contrast to the online poker economies in countries such as France, where numbers have dwindled over the past five years.
A complete power shift may not be in the cards just yet. However, poker in India is becoming more popular, as the IOPC is proving.
On a local level, this will lead to more record-breaking prize pools. Of potentially greater significance, this growth could change the dynamics of online poker in general as more international operators take aim at the growing Indian market.
In isolation, the IOPC is another win for online poker in India. As the industry evolves, it’s also a sign that the game is changing and attracting an entirely new player pool.