After several years of trying, the Stars Group is finally ready to enter the Indian Poker market. This is thanks to a partnership with local lottery operator, Sugal & Damani, wholly owned subsidiary of Sachar Gaming Private Limited. At the same time as Sachar Gaming ceased operations of its Khelplay Poker site earlier this month, another of its subsidiaries, Sachiko Gaming Private Limited, purchased the Pokerstars.in domain name.
Although the website currently only displays a “coming soon” message, PokerStars India is set to replace Khelplay in the very near future.
Industry insiders will remember that the Stars Group initially promised that the launch of PokerStars India would take place before the end of 2017. Stars were unfortunately unable to make good on this problems because of the strict gaming laws in place in India.
Specifically, PokerStars was not allowed to operate in India because it is based in Toronto, Canada, and Indian gaming law stipulates that only locally based companies may obtain licenses to operate online poker sites in the region.
Ultimately, PokerStars was able to find a way around India’s stringent gambling laws by enlisting a local partner, India’s lottery operator, Sugal & Damani. This local connection means that PokerStars is now legally entitled to enter the Indian online Poker market. There is already one Indian Team Pro member, Aditya Agarwal, on board.
This is not the first time that PokerStars has managed to find a way around a particular country’s rigid online gambling laws. A few years ago, after extensive campaigning and careful tactical manoeuvring, the operator finally ventured into the US market via New Jersey. The Stars Group’s progress in America has, however, come to a halt in recent months as changes to US gambling legislation have been in a state of temporary inertia. This is a large part of the reason why PokerStars has invested so much effort into gaining entry to the Indian market.
This savvy portfolio diversification will give PokerStars access to the world’s second-largest country (by population) – there are over 1.3 billion people in India. The timing is also perfect because Poker has enjoyed a surge in popularity in the country over the past few years, even gaining the attention of the mainstream media. In fact, India now has its own Pokers Sports League, which features 120 participants and 12 teams.