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Game on: Poker industry looking at accelerated growth this Diwali

Diwali celebrations are incomplete without a rambunctious game of cards with friends and family. This year card parties and games of chance are moving online – not just in India but globally as well. The WPT Online Poker Festival is currently on in Europe. Super High Roller Bowl, the Poker Masters, several WSOP Circuit series, and World Poker Tour are some of the big global series that have transitioned to online amid the pandemic.

India, too, is taking to the poker craze with gusto. Poker is a skilled-based card game, which is easy to learn. Poker websites like Adda52, Poker Dangal, 9stacks and PokerBaazi have now become the hubs of gaming in India and are especially popular amongst the youngsters as an easy way to earn money. These websites hold various tournaments as an opportunity for users to earn huge bounties.

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These platforms saw increased traction during the lockdown. During this time, the entire gaming industry expected to grow by 50-100% with both visits on gaming platforms and the time spent increasing by 21% and 24%, respectively. According to FICCI-EY’s report, titled ‘The Era of Consumer A.R.T.’, the online gaming segment grew 40 per cent in 2019 to reach Rs 65 billion. The report projected the segment to reach Rs 187 billion by 2022 at a CAGR of 43 per cent. The number of online gamers in India grew 31 per cent in 2019 to reach around 365 million and is expected to reach 440 million by 2022.

Poker websites formed a big chunk of this growth. As people were restricted to their homes, they found new avenues to pass their time. Playing poker online was one such way which not only resulted in engagement but also money in the pocket of the user, registering a jump in terms of time spent, new users, daily active users and revenue.

9stacks witnessed a growth of 20-30 per cent in terms of time spent, while Adda52rummy saw revenue growth of 50 per cent and 70 per cent growth in daily active users. Both Pocket Dangal and Pocket52 saw new users on their respective platforms.

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Speaking on the opportunity during the festive season, especially Diwali, Sudhir Kamath, CEO & Founder, 9stacks, said, “We noticed on our platforms that people were also using Zoom calls while playing on private tables. Hence, we enabled voice on our platforms so that the players can interact with one another on private tables directly. This feature has seen great success. With Suresh Raina as our brand ambassador, our communication continues and we introduced several tournaments with Rs 1 lakh prize and free entries. We have focused on Diwali as our communication and allowed several tournaments to take place with low stakes yet big prizes.”

Varun Ganjoo, Marketing Director at Baazi Games (parent group of PokerBaazi.com), added, “Playing cards is integral to our social culture during the festive season. This has obviously been affected by the ongoing global pandemic due to the spread of the novel coronavirus. In order to control the spread of COVID-19, people have taken to listening to scientific advice and are staying at home and maintaining social distance norms. This has meant that people have had to adopt new mediums of entertainment, including the switch towards online gaming platforms. By introducing new features such as private cash tables, we are encouraging people to this cultural tradition online and play in a safe and secure environment on our platform. We hope this message hits home and are expecting to see an increase in the number of players playing on our platform.”

Poker websites have been going big this festive season and are offering attractive propositions for players someone to join these portals and start playing. Varun Mahna, CEO & Founder, PokerDangal, informed Adgully, “We have increased the number of giveaways for users by 30-50 per cent. Being the festive season, the consumer has all the more reason to play now. We see a big increase in our traffic and number users, especially during the festive season. During the pandemic, we saw a 40 per cent growth in users and the festive season has further accelerated that.”

In an earlier interview with Adgully, Debashish Bhattarcharjee, Co-Founder and CMO, Pocket52, had said, “We have 40 per cent growth on a month-on-month basis. So, in total a 60 per cent growth for the festive months of October, November and December is expected.”

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