Categories
Poker

Indian Poker Association to start poker room in Jharkhand

Bengaluru-based Indian Poker Association (IPA) has announced that it will be starting a new poker room at Ranchi’s Holiday Home hotel in Jharkhand on 15th August.

The announcement was made by IPA Secretary KN Suresh and IPA’s affiliate organisation, the East India Poker Association on social media.

While confirming the development, Suresh stated that they believe there will not be any legal difficulties in running the poker room as they had written to the Director General of Police (DGP) of Jharkhand about their intention of starting a poker room. He further noted that the authorities have not raised any objection to the plan so far and the DGP has forwarded IPA’s petition to the jurisdictional police.

IPA and Suresh have spearheaded the movement to start offline poker rooms in the country for the past few years. Suresh filed a writ petitions in the Karnataka and Calcutta High Courts, based on which poker rooms have been operating in the two jurisdictions.

IPA also attempted to start a poker room in Delhi’s Radisson Blu Hotel in Paschim Vihar but had to shut down operations due to legal issues. The association’s poker operations in Ahmedabad had also run into trouble with the police, with a single judge of the Gujarat High Court ruling that poker is a game of chance and cannot be allowed. The appeal from the single judge’s order is now pending before a division bench of the Gujarat High Court, which is now scheduled to hear the case on 11th September.

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Poker

Chris Gayle becomes Adda52’s brand ambassador

Legendary West Indies cricketer Chris Gayle has signed up with online poker website Adda52 to be its new brand ambassador. As Adda52’s mascot, Gayle will be promoting the online poker website through various media and offline channels, including on social media.

Commenting on the association, Mohit Agarwal, co-founder of Adda52 said, “We are excited to have Chris as our brand ambassador as this will go a long way in improving the awareness of our brand and the game overall. Moreover, this will also help the people relate more with poker and re-emphasize the fact that Poker is a skill-based game which offers fun & thrill at the same time. We are the poker pioneers in India and look forward to many more users on Adda52’s award-winning platform.”

In a press release,  Gayle commented,  “I’m really glad to be a part of Adda52! I have been playing recreationally poker for a while now. I have a special relationship with the people of India. Adda52’s name is synonymous with online poker in India – it was an immediate yes from my side. It’s amazing to see the growing passion for poker in India and I would love to be a part of this journey.”

To highlight the collaboration, Adda52 has launched a ‘Gaylestorm’ poker tournament that will take place on 5th August, 2018. The tournament, which has a buy-in of Rs. 2500 will have a guaranteed Rs. 50 lakhs prizepool.

Gayle, who is known to be one of the most colourful and popular cricketers, plays in the Kings XI Punjab franchisee in the Indian Premier League (IPL). He is an avid poker player and recently participated in the Deltin Poker Tournament (DPT) Colossus High Roller Poker tournament in April, 2018.

As per of his association with Adda52, it is understood that Gayle will also be participating in future editions of DPT in Goa. He will also be promoting Delta Corp’s new fantasy sports platform, LeagueAdda.

Categories
Poker

WPT to host India event from 13-19 November at Deltin Royale

The World Poker Tour (WPT), one of the world’s largest poker tournament organisers, will be hosting its second edition of WPT India tournament from 13th-19th November, 2018 at the Deltin Royale Casino in Goa.

The WPT event in India, which is touted as the largest poker tournament in the country is part of WPT’s strategy of foraying into emerging Asian jurisdictions. WPT has also announced that it would be hosting a WPT Vietnam event from 26th September-4th October, 2018 at the Pro Poker Club in Ho Chi Minh.

The WPT India event will be hosted in partnership with online poker website Adda52 and gaming conglomerate, Delta Corp Ltd.

Commenting on the announcement of the event, Mohit Agarwal, co-founder of Adda52 said, “We are excited to host the second season of the WPT at India’s largest casino, Deltin Royale in Goa. With a population of 1.3 billion, India has a booming poker scene and the game is growing in popularity by the day. WPT India is a perfect fit for the Indian poker community and puts India firmly on the global poker tournament map.”

WPT had hosted a similar India event at the Deltin Royale casino in Goa last year. The event saw 527 entries and the main event was won by poker pro Vikash Mantri.

The series this year will include the WPT India High Roller, Superstack, Bounty, and Shootout events. The full schedule of the various events and buy-ins of the tournaments have not yet been announced by the company.

Categories
Poker

Presenting Rs. 3 lakh GTD freeroll tournament from PokerLion

The finals of  the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 is on Sunday, 15th July. And we know that millions of football ardent fans in India will be have a mixed feeling after its end. If you want to keep swaying in the World Cup feeling, the excitement is still on from PokerLion’s end, as the final round of ‘Football Fever Freeroll Tournament’ series is still left to play on PokerLion.

Yes, the date is 18th July when thousands of poker fans will clash with each other on PokerLion tables for winning the Prizepool of Rs. 3 lakhs (GTD).

Rs. 3 lakh GTD Football Fever Freeroll Tournament is open for all poker players.  You just have to enrol by depositing Rs. 500 to get your registration for the tournament done.

The registration for this 3 LAC GTD Football Fever Freeroll Tournament has already been started and the qualifying period for the tournament is from 9th July (00:00 IST) and the last date of registering is 15th July (23:59 IST).

Isn’t this Rs. 3 lakh GTD Football Fever Freeroll Tournament a treat after the end of FIFA World Cup? Now skewer your opponents in this tournament. Book the dates, enroll, get your table and win big at India’s best poker online site. See you soon at the tables!

Disclaimer: This article is a sponsored post and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the authors of this website. Readers may treat this as an advertorial. 

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Poker

Don’t miss football fever freerolls at PokerLion

Join the action and play Football Fever Freerolls available on this season of FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 at Pokerlion.com and keep in mind if you are not a registered player yet, the android links here will give you a welcome bonus of Rs 500 to start your account!

The entire world is cheering up their favourite soccer teams playing in Russia these days. Play Football Fever Freerolls this July when you are not busy gluing to your television screen and win a GTD of Rs, 5,00,000.

All you have to do is deposit some minimum amounts in three qualifying periods and you’ll get pre-registered to 5 lakhs worth of free tournaments!! Plan out your poker strategies and play at our cash game tables and play your poker games to increase your raked hands count to begin each Football Fever Freeroll Tournament with double or even triple your starting chip stack.

To play the Football Fever Freerolls meet these three criteria:

Deposit the minimum amounts shown in the table below during one, two or all three of the qualifying periods.

Day Date Time Minimum Deposit Prize Pool Qualifying Period
Wednesday 04.07.2018 7 PM IST Rs 100 0.5 lakh 25.06.2018 (00:00 IST) – 01.07.2018 (23:59 IST)
Wednesday 11.07.2018 7 PM IST Rs 150 2 lakh 02.07.2018 (00:00 IST) – 08.07.2018 (23:59 IST)
Wednesday 18.07.2018 7 PM IST Rs 200 2.5 lakh 09.07.2018 (00:00 IST) – 15.07.2018 (23:59 IST)

You can play 100 to 199 raked hands in each qualifying period and you will get extra 2,500 chips on top of the standard 2,500, so you can begin your tournament with 5,000 chips during that same qualifying period.

You can also play 200 and above raked hands in each qualifying period and you will get extra 5,000 extra chips for Football Fever Freerolls during that same qualifying period, giving you monstrous chips stack of 7,500!

To know more about the terms and conditions of Football Fever Freerolls, download the PokerLion Android mobile app – http://bit.ly/PokerLionApp or visit the www.pokerlion.com tournament page.

See you hitting the tables pretty soon!

Disclaimer: This post is a sponsored post and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the authors of this website. Readers may treat this as an advertorial. 

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Legal & Regulatory Poker

Calcutta HC confirms Spartan Poker settlement, all pending cases to be withdrawn

Exclusive The Calcutta High Court in its order on 28th June, has confirmed that the Rajat Agarwal (PokerGuru) and Amin Rozani  (Indian Poker Championship) factions of Spartan Poker have reached an amicable settlement on 20th June, 2018.

A single judge bench of the Calcutta High Court comprising of Justice Soumen Sen in an order dated 28th June, 2018, accepted the ‘Terms of Settlement’ signed by the parties involved in the bitter legal battle over the Spartan Poker business and brand name.

Justice Sen in his order, recorded the withdrawal of the civil suit filed by Rajat Agarwal against Rozani, Spartan Online Pvt. Ltd. and other parties and noted:

“During the pendency of the interlocutory applications the parties have agreed to settle their disputes and have entered into a Terms of Settlement dated 20.6.2018. The Terms of Settlement has duly been signed by the parties and their respective attorneys.

The Terms of Settlement appears to be lawful and in accordance with the order XXIII rule 3 of the Civil Procedure Code. The Court is satisfied with the Terms of Settlement filed in Court today and the said Terms of Settlement is taken on record. Accordingly, the decree is passed on the basis of original Terms of Settlement dated 20.6.2018 filed today.”

The signing of the settlement agreement and its acceptance by the court brings to end a long and bitter dispute, dating back to 2016, between Agarwal on one side and Rozani and his partners on the other.

Glaws had first reported two weeks ago that the two-year old dispute between Agarwal and Rozani was heading towards an amicable settlement and the formal ratification of the same could be expected in the next few days.

It is understood that the settlement would involve withdrawal of all pending cases filed by either faction against the other, that includes the defamation suit filed by the Rozani faction against Agarwal, criminal cases of cheating, breach of trust and misuse of digital identity against Agarwal and his father Bal Krishan Agarwal, trademark claims by either party etc.

It is likely that the amicable resolution involved payment of some settlement amount by the Rozani faction to Agarwal to withdraw his claim of partnership share in the Spartan Poker business, although neither party was willing to confirm the exact details of the settlement.

Confirming that a settlement had been arrived at with Agarwal, The Spartan Poker Managing Director Amin Rozani said, “It’s always a relief to be out of legal processes. The efforts (spent in legal processes) can (now) be diverted in giving higher value and better services to the poker players.”

Agarwal declined to offer any comments regarding the settlement.

Read more about online poker platforms in India.

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Gaming Poker

Feature: Poker veteran Jim Ramm talks about the evolution of poker in India, Jims Poker Room and future of gaming in India

For those who have tracked the poker and gaming industry in India, the name Jim Ramm needs no introduction. One of the early movers in the poker industry in India, Jim has been associated with almost all casinos in Goa at some points of time and is now running a poker room in Colombo’s Marina casino.

In this exclusive conversation, he talks about a wide range of issues including how he got associated with poker, his attempts to venture into online poker, the need for responsible gaming and a proper regulatory framework and much more.

Full interview:

Q. You are one of the senior-most persons in the poker industry in the Indian sub-continent and in a way, one of the pioneers of poker in India. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got acquainted with the game of poker and why you decided to start a poker venture in India?

Jim Ramm (Jim): In the early 2000’s I was based in the Caribbean islands in the jewelry trade and started playing poker then with friends at house games. Aruba, St. Kitts & Nevis and then South Carolina in the United States. I was present at the 2004 & 2005 WPT tours in Aruba and that got me more into poker. I was lucky to meet up with some of the big guys then. I even sold some jewelry pieces to them and their family!

In mid-2008 I returned to India for my USA residence visa renewal formalities, which took a little longer than I expected, actually only a month more, but this waiting period got me looking for a game of poker. I found that Goa was the only state in India which had casinos so I headed there for a short poker vacation. But there was no game there either. This is when I got the idea to start a poker league as I believed that this game would surely fit in with our Indian lifestyle and one day would become a popular house game like rummy.

Thus came into being India Poker Ranking Tour (IPRT) the very first Indian Poker League.

(I did get my USA visa soon after this but never used it. I stayed back in India).

Q. You brought both cash games and tournaments in Goa in 2008 by starting a poker room in Casino Pride (and later in other casinos). Tell us about your experience of running a poker room and poker events in Goa? How do you think the poker scenario has evolved over the last few years?

Jim: From the very beginning I decided to work only at legal and licensed venues and thus approached a couple of Goa casinos with my idea of holding tournaments and cash events at their casino ships. Casino Royale (now Deltin JAQK) and Casino Pride (now Casino Pride 1) were the two casinos I approached with my proposal. Mr. Narinder Punj, grand-father of Indian gaming industry, who was then heading Casino Royale and Casino Caravela, showed keen interest in this new idea.

Casino Pride guided me to Mr. Phil Sanders who had just entered into negotiations for starting a poker room at their casino. After meeting Mr. Phil I felt we shared many common ideas and decided to join him at Casino Pride. The cash tables became operational on 15th August that year but it was the first IPRT tournament, held soon thereafter, which got us traction with the cash tables. In less than a year after that Mr. Phil decided to move to Casino Royale. I stayed back at Casino Pride as the poker room operator.

Those early days were tough as there was no data base of existing poker players available and we did not have Whatsapp, or Facebook to connect with players. Communication was via SMS’ on Nokia & Samsung first generation monochrome 1.5 inch screen mobile phones and also via emails.

I got on to the task of creating a data base from across the country which I considered to be most vital. The idea was to assemble poker players under one IPRT branded umbrella. The task was more daunting due to the fear in interpreting the ambiguities of the Indian gambling laws. Invitation to a casino could have been a violation of the law. It was indeed frightening then as there was no set precedent for me to follow. I started inviting players for IPRT tournaments and created a data base discreetly and steadily.

IPRT tourneys were being held regularly and so were the cash tables running. But those were different days. For most of the players it was the first experience at a casino with dealers dealing for them. Their nervousness was clearly visible on the tables and so was their excitement. Rs 10000 (approx. USD 200 those days) buyin tables with Rs.100/200 blinds was a big thing!

After a lot of trial and error we set the basic norms which are followed even today like the 5% rake and the Rs 5000 cap; the tournament structures suitable for our local players were modified and established with the help of Mr. Craig; the attractive free hotel stay and flight reimbursement promotions were introduced; the minimum number of play hours required to qualify for the freebies were established; bad beat jackpot was introduced first time by us; basic training programs for dealers was created; things like that.

In Goa I ran poker rooms at Casino Pride, Casino Carnival and Casino Caravela between 2009 and 2013.

There has been quite a shift in overall gaming in the last decade, primarily brought about by advancing technology. The demographics of our customers have also changed. The players are younger on average. I believe that the future of the casino industry is in slots & e-machines. For poker and other card games, it is in online platforms. As today’s customers were raised on electronic games, therefore, the real future innovations in gaming are going to primarily happen in the electronic versions. Even the payment models will slowly shift dominantly from fiat moneys to crypto currencies.

Poker as a game has indeed come a long way in India since those early days. IPRT was the first Indian platform to bring organized poker in brick and mortar format to the un-exposed Indian market and that will remain as a historical fact forever. However, the online poker platform Adda52 was the catalyst, the first booster for the poker popularity wagon in India, though there will be many who may argue it was Zynga Poker.

Now, with Delta Corp taking the lead by acquiring Adda52 and promoting Poker Sports League, the most exciting and credible league format in India, I feel this will be the second booster. With PSL, under the lead of Mr. Manoj Jain (Vice President of Delta Corp and head of operations of Deltin Royale) and my new visionary friend and fellow poker passionista Mr Manish Adnani of Deltin Royale, I see a tremendous growth in the industry in the next five years.

Other players in the industry like Mr. Anuj Gupta, Mr. Amit Burman, Mr. Pranav Bagai, Mr. Amin Rozani, Mr. Vinod Manoharan, Mr. Manoj Jain (Pokabunga), Mr. Madhav Gupta, Mr. Rajeev Kanjani and Mr. Navkiran Singh amongst others, have done and are continuing to do a great job.

However, credit should also go to the people working behind the scenes, who have been the back-bone of the Indian poker industry since the very beginning. Mr. Rajendra Chandrachud of Salus Technologies is one such individual who has dedicatedly devoted over a decade developing gaming software in India, including poker and rummy, and continues to service Indian and International markets on his robust platform. Mr. Rajat Agarwal and Mr. Aditya Agarwal of PokerGuru did magic for the poker industry at the right time in our country, and you, Mr. Jay Sayta have done great service to the whole gaming industry through your Glaws platform.

Q. After successfully running poker in Goa, you were planning to start something in online poker in 2011 and you were one of the initial few people who thought about starting an online poker website in India. Can you throw some light on your foray into online poker and why it did not work out?

Jim: One fine day, I think it was in 2010, I got a call from a young and dynamic lawyer, Mr. Vaibhav Gaggar from Delhi, who convinced me that we could operate an online poker platform legally in India. He visited me in Goa soon after that phone call and the very first hand-shake established a bond between us. He greatly impressed me with his enthusiasm and energy right away. Thereafter, I traveled a dozen times to Delhi for meetings to develop our future course of action. With Mr. Vaibhav’s legal expertise and my gaming background combining forces, we set up a plan of action and got about approaching investors, banks for online payment gateways, finding software developers and putting other operational and marketing strategies in place. As we had already identified the most crucial aspect for online poker’s success to be an online payment gateway solution, we worked arduously on this, though without much success.

At this point we requested Mr. Gaurav Gaggar, brother of Vaibhav having a distinct banking and finance background, to join our team. His expertise was greatly needed to get a break-thru in convincing banks for this much needed crucial online payment gateway solution in some format or another. Poker as a card game was unknown to most of the bankers we approached and they simply categorized it as any other gambling game, making it a taboo subject for them to even talk about.

In midst of these time-consuming challenges and our pre-occupations this project got simmering in the back-burner with lesser communication between us partners.  In one later meeting in Delhi I was informed that Mr. Vaibhav had decided to consult and work with another group on this online poker project. Thus, Adda52 was born. Something great did really come out of our joint pioneering efforts!

Q. For the past few years, you have been based in Colombo, first running a poker room in Bellagio casino and now operating the Jims Poker Room and teenpatti games in Marina casino. How is the gaming scenario in Sri Lanka and how is it different from India?

Jim: I started Jims Poker Room at Bellagio Casino, Colombo, Sri Lanka in 2010. It was also the first official legal poker venue of Sri Lanka. The pool of local players was very small and there was a cultural stigma attached for locals to be seen at casinos. We also faced a challenge to get trained English speaking staff those days. We depended mostly on expat staff and overseas players to run daily cash tables, which was an expensive business model. Another great challenge was to convince overseas guests that Sri Lanka was now a very safe place to visit, after decades of internal rife.

A great amount of joint marketing efforts went in by Casino Bellagio Colombo and Jims Poker Room to bring Sri Lanka forward as a gaming destination in the eyes of the Indian players. Most of the Indian players I invited did not even know that there were casinos existing in Sri Lanka!

I started Jims Poker Room in Casino Marina Colombo in early 2015 and have been operating poker cash games, handling the flush/teenpatti groups for Casino Marina and providing services as a junket agent to overseas players till today.

Gaming in the Indian sub-continent is quite similar to each other. Some differences are the Sri Lankan casinos being stand-alone casinos compared to Goa’s off-shore and Nepal’s hotel integrated casinos. All three countries offer the same table games, same services like free FnB, hotel stay and flight reimbursements to invitee or package guests. The betting limits at gaming tables differ a little and so do the agent commissions vary. Sri Lanka offers the best promotional packages for players and the highest agent commissions in our region.

Another distinct difference for Sri Lanka is that it has a large local Chinese community and a lot of overseas guests from the Middle-East, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Maldives as their client base. Unlike Nepal, Sri Lankan citizens are free to play at local casinos.

Q. With the legal situation limiting casinos to only two states, Goa and Sikkim, and indications that this might not change in the near future, do you see a lot of Indian players turning to other nearby destinations like Nepal and Sri Lanka for gaming? Do you feel there are more opportunities in gaming outside India than within India?

Jim: I would like to believe that India is going to remain to be the best gaming location for Indian punters. Yes, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Macau, Cambodia, Philippines, Malaysia and even as far away as Australia, UK, USA, Cyprus, Georgia and other CIS countries may attract some of the mostly upper-middle and high rollers from India, yet the comparative percentage will be negligible.

Bulk spending will be done in Indian casinos and then maybe Nepal & Sri Lanka will be the next level benefactors. This is because of convenience in logistics, money handling, personalized services and also unbelievingly, because many Indian players do not possess passports to travel out of the country and many of them who do, avoid getting immigration stamps on their passports because of personal reasons. Nepal is preferred by Indian customers over Sri Lanka for this precise reason, as they can visit Nepal without a passport.

There is no doubt that Sri Lankan casinos offer better promotions for middle and upper-middle bracket players and much higher commissions for casino agents. Sri Lanka & Nepal offer other attractions and entertainment options which might not easily be available in Goa or Sikkim.

If ‘What happens in Goa stays in Goa’, then, ‘What happens in Colombo or Kathmandu never happened!’ I guess this works better for many players.

Nonetheless, because Goa is an easily accessible destination for the Indian mass market including the lower-middle and the middle bracket players, it will remain to be the most vibrant gaming market as far as Indian audience is concerned for a long time to come. These segments have the potential to service the bottom-line of any casino. The high rollers and whales will continue to provide the icing and cherry on the P&L of Goa casinos, as usual.

Additionally, with Goa government now planning a tourist hub near Mopa and with plans to move all the casinos there in the next 5 to 10 years, I am sure we will see an emergence of huge integrated complexes with hotels, casinos, entertainment centers, sporting arenas, restaurants, malls and theme parks coming up which will enhance the growth of the gaming industry and exponentially sky-rocket their topline. Nothing can stop this growth from happening (which comes with a rider and that is), if the government and casino operators get it right and do it right!

Q. Jims Poker Room has become a recognisable brand in India with your aggressive branding and promotional activities. Any plans of expanding beyond Sri Lanka and starting similar ventures in India or other countries?

Jim: Jims Poker Room has been in existence in our Indian sub-continent for about a decade now. It is slowly getting recognized in the gaming and poker communities of India, Sri Lanka, UAE, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Philippines and Nepal and we have seen a positive growth over the period of many years. Yes, we may now be in the process of expansion and we may have an announcement to make very soon about an exciting certain Poker Yatra!

I have realized that seasoned poker players like to travel to different places to get a chance to play with new faces and many of them like to club together the tourism part of it. My future endeavour is to have multiple-locations if possible in different countries and to cross-pollinate our large player base between these different locations, thus keeping each venue vibrant, providing fresh audience to our poker patrons and at the same time making each location a self-sustaining and profitable center.

If we succeed in doing this then probably it will be a first again, having multiple brick and mortar poker venues in different countries under the same brand. I am praying and working hard to pull this first-off again!

Q. Live poker, online poker and poker leagues have all grown exponentially in India over the past few years. However, there isn’t much that poker operators do to prevent addiction and problem gaming. Do you think more should be done to promote responsible gaming?

Jim: Absolutely one of my major concerns. I wish we operators, including casino operators, do attend to this aspect vehemently and if required then, do it unilaterally without impositions from the government. Because of no formal gaming regulations in our region and because we are not obliged by law to comply, we are overlooking this major and critical dimension of the gaming business.

I guess we are all overwhelmed by the liberty and ease of running a gambling business, without much pre-requisites or post-operational regulations and therefore we continue maintaining a blind-eye. If not attended to soon, it is going to play “catch-up” with us and become the Achilles heel.

If we were to think in terms of the long run topline of the whole industry, then realistically we need to protect our customer base. Gambling, whether it is baccarat, roulette, blackjack or other casino games; card games; horse racing; lottery; sports betting; are all addictive. In excess, it has the potential to destroy peoples’ lives, change life styles and affect the social fabric of families and even local societies as a whole, because honestly gambling does attract certain non-ethical elements and incidental businesses around it. This is bound to give rise to rightful resistance from the social and moral guardians and welfare groups if not from the governments directly. It is our moral duty and obligation to educate and remind gamblers regularly that they should only risk gambling within their means and not make gambling a means of a livelihood.

Many players say that they are entertainment gamblers but I don’t agree with the premise or the concept that gambling is entertainment.  Entertainment should be fun but the only part that’s fun about gambling is when you win. Anything other than that outcome will make any “hard-core or not” gamer writhe in pain. The name of the game is “win” and this is the most difficult part of gambling.

Like I always say, “Losing is the rule and winning is an exception!”

I believe this holds good in gambling, as it does in every aspect of life.

The general public doesn’t understand the strength of gambling or gaming, call it what you may, whether it be on an online or live card game, a slot machine, black jack, baccarat, rummy, or the race course. Gambling is the only industry that I am aware of in the world where the player really has virtually no chance, and the only industry in the world where to start-up, the pre-requisite is only a license (in Indian online poker and rummy businesses we don’t even require a license). I will not give in to the argument that funding is also another criteria to start a gambling enterprise, simply because there is unlimited supply of money in India.

Indians greedily enjoy gambling, whether it be on the IPL, the World Cup, the Indian Derby, the NFL, Formula One, Pro Kabaddi, PGA, WWE or even on today’s onion prices. I think television and other media have created a tremendous amount of interest inadvertently in gambling by promoting so called entertainment sports. Smart Phones help facilitate with ease illegal betting apps, which have no age restrictions. You can try your luck with just a flick of your pinkie across any 10th generation extra sensitive touch screen. The word “betting” is now nearly equal to that of a “masala dosa!”

In India, gaming today is no different than going to the movies fifteen years ago.  At that time, gambling at casinos was a no-no for most Indians. The people in the industry, including those who worked in Goa casinos, were looked upon, somewhat, as less-than-ideal citizens. Today it’s perceived as legal. You have the power and the influence of respectable companies including a public listed company like Delta Corp foraying into this sector and that’s the big difference today versus 10 or 15 years ago. Gambling is now regarded as legal and it places an air of respectability. This is precisely why the gambling industry needs to have and maintain an immaculate image.

Presently, you can already see the gambling industry preview as to how people are being lured, legitimately and illegitimately, by magnificent veiled marketing promotions. Gambling is becoming more lucrative and more accessible to all of us and many times under the misleading label of sports. Technology is bringing gambling to our homes in various disguises, garbs, forms and shapes that we could have not imagined 10 years ago.

Yet, no one is informing nor educating the players about the odds, probabilities and risks involved in gambling. No one has established a local counselling center for gambling addicts. No one wants to speak the gospel truth which is that in the long run no one can win in gambling. Not the government and surely not the operators!

I think gambling (online & offline combined) is probably the largest industry in the world, or nearly approaching it and it should not be taken casually. Both, the Indian government and the gambling industry, should push forward with getting regulatory bodies and regulations in place as soon as possible. It will help this industry greatly in our country which factually does create a lot of jobs. It will help the naive players and will also help the image and credibility of the gaming industry. If the local, state and central governments play a bigger role they may recognize the disproportionate taxation on this industry and probably it can be addressed and blessed with a more balanced and structured tax-policy. All this can be done and a lot more. It is clearly in everyone’s best interests to work in a regulated environment. The best time to have done this was 10 years ago and the next best time is now. Better late than never!

The popularity of poker specifically, in the next decade or so in India will be equal to that of rummy today. The burden is on present day poker operators to sensibly steer the direction of the poker industry. A game of poker requires a skillful gambling strategy based on mathematically derived and established probabilities. I think we all should agree that chance plays a major role in any game of poker and that can be easily seen at the variance occurring in any poker session.

This occurs because of the randomness of the cards in play and this we can indisputably tag as “chance or luck”. Yes, in the long run decisions based on “positive expected value” (+EV) will make you a winner. However, in the short run we should not overlook the variance probabilities that can get players ruined!

I would wish for the poker industry leaders to come forward as an association and help maintain the integrity of this wonderful game!

Q. Finally, your parting thoughts on how you see the gaming industry and your brand, Jims Poker Room evolving in the next five years?

Jim: I am really hoping for some much required reforms in our gambling laws and absolutely hoping for central gaming regulatory bodies to formally emerge in our sub-continent. Sadly, none of the countries like India, Sri Lanka and Nepal have any dedicated policing nor regulatory bodies to direct and regulate both the online and the live gaming industry. It is now controlled mostly by the economic and executive branches of government who are driven by different agendas. This does not help the players nor the industry any. I believe the gaming industry should push really hard for regulations to come into being as they are going to benefit most from working in a controlled and secure environment.

I believe, once this happens we will have more people gambling online and in brick & mortar venues simply because they will trust it more. Trust should be the main concern for the gambling industry and I am sure most of us know why. Also the states will earn many-fold more revenue with tax reforms on this industry than present, and will have additional financial resources to put back into the communities and social activities, like education, infra-structure, health and environment. It will also help reduce corruption existing mainly due to the many ambiguities in present gaming laws and the vagrant implementation of them.

I believe that the gaming industry should unify and do what is best for itself and that means setting benchmarks and policy from within itself till such time the governments wake up and do the needful. I’m not sure if I’m qualified to over think, but I fear if the government does not get guidance from within the gambling industry then, sans the expertise, knowledge or understanding of the product in hand, it might over-regulate. Whether or not the government today understands the product and the potential, the operators certainly do. I hope the government does take the views of gaming professionals whenever they go forward in reforming the gambling laws in India.

I also look forward to the gaming industry putting money back into the social sectors such as education, health and environment, if they want gambling to have a healthy future. They should lead in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities, if for nothing else, then at least, because of their nature of business.

At the end of the day, I believe in free-enterprise and free-choice. Legitimate businesses have the right to try to make the most profits and adult customers have the right to decide where to best spend their hard earned moneys. Governments as arbitrators and policemen maintain the right to make sure that all parties get a fair deal and that justice prevails!

Jims Poker Room is a small business and hopefully our regular players and casino partners will support us as they have done so far. I want to thank the whole poker fraternity and our casino venue partners who have always been supportive of our endeavours.

I would especially like to thank Mr. Ravi Wijeratne, (Chairman) of Rank Holdings & Casino Marina International, .Ashok Kheterpal (Chairman) Casino Pride Group, Mr. Baldev Arora (Director) Casino Pride Group, Mr. Hirendra Parera (Director) of Casino Bellagio Colombo, Mr Raghuvir and Mr Xavier (Directors) of Casino Carnival Goa, Mr. Shrinivas Nayak (Director) of Casino Pride Group,  Mr. Romesh Wickramasekera (VP) of Rank Holdings & Casino Marina Colombo, Mr Ruban Dharmarajah (CEO) of Casino Ballys Kathmandu, Mr. Clifford Casinadan (CEO) of Casino Bellagio Colombo, for bestowing their confidence in me.

We have a good team in Jims Group and we have managed to survive and gather a lot of experience in handling poker, flush and casino games over the years. The challenge facing us is our own commitment to service. We believe in providing the best premium services possible to our customers and I have full faith that this will give us our highest rewards.

We hope we will be able to show some great results in the coming few years. We may have a “wild card” surprise for the gaming industry!

Categories
Legal & Regulatory Poker

Rajat Agarwal, Amin Rozani in advanced stages of discussion to settle Spartan Poker dispute

Exclusive PokerGuru founder Rajat Agarwal and the current The Spartan Poker management (led by Managing Director Amin Rozani) are in advanced stages of discussion to amicably settle their lengthy and acrimonious dispute relating to the ownership of Spartan Poker brand, website and company Quadrific Media Private Limited.

While Agarwal had filed a civil suit against Quadrific Media, Rozani and his other partners in the Calcutta High Court in 2017 claiming a share in the partnership business of Spartan Poker, the Ami Rozani faction of The Spartan Poker had filed a civil defamation case in the Bombay High Court against Agarwal, his father Bal Krishan Agarwal and erstwhile business associate Rohit Bhalla for alleging publishing defamatory articles.

Rozani and his faction had also filed a criminal case (First Information Report) against Agarwal, his father Bal Krishan Agarwal and Bhalla with the Mumbai police for cheating, criminal breach of trust, fraudulent use of computer resource and impersonation while using a computer resource.

It is understood that apart from these cases, there were some other criminal defamation cases initiated by Rozani’s faction against Agarwal and Bhalla as well as opposition to the use of the trademark ‘Spartan Poker’ in the trademark registry.

To seek protection against potential arrest in the FIR against them, Agarwal and his father Bal Krishan had moved an anticipatory bail application in the Bombay High Court in late 2017.

The court vide an order dated 19th September, 2017 noted that Agarwal has pleaded that the allegations of cheating, breach of trust and misuse of password/identity etc. are mainly against Bhalla. The court thereafter granted interim protection from arrest to Agarwal and his father, stating that both of them have to be released on bail on payment of personal bond of Rs. 50,000/- and sureties, in case they are arrested during investigation.

The court also asked the duo to appear before the investigating officer and join investigation during certain specified dates.

While Agarwal’s anticipatory bail application has been kept pending with extension of the partial interim relief granted to them, the court’s most recent order of 12th June, 2018 records that ‘the applicant (Rajat Agarwal) is in the process of settling the matter with respondent No. 2 (Amin Rozani) amicably’.

Sources indicate that all disputes and litigation between Agarwal and Rozani might be inching towards settlement although no definitive settlement agreement has been signed yet. It is however believed that a final and conclusive settlement might be reached within the next couple of weeks, possibly before Agarwal’s anticipatory bail application comes up for hearing on 3rd July.

The possible terms of settlement and whether it would include any monetary consideration or compensation is not immediately clear. Both Agarwal and Rozani declined to comment on the matter.

Read more about online poker in India.

Categories
Poker

Adda52 to host Deltin Poker Tournament in Goa from 26th-29th July

Online poker website Adda52 has announced that it will be hosting the next edition of its flagship Deltin Poker Tournament (DPT) from 26th-29th July, 2018 at the Deltin Royale casino in Goa.

The four day event will see various categories of poker tournaments, ranging from Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 65,000 being organised at the casino vessel.

The structures of the event have tweaked marginally compared to the previous events with a focus on the Main Event (which has a Rs. 35,000 buy-in) offering a Rs. 1 crore guarantee.

The organisers have also announced a Rs. 15,000 bounty tournament on the final day of the event with every player who registers for the bounty on the Adda52 website, getting an assured Rs. 2200 instant bonus. A high roller tournament with a buy-in of Rs. 65,000 will also be conducted on 27th July.

Adda52 is also offering ‘Stay and Play’ package to all players participating in the Main Event and High Rollers offering players free stay and airport transfers for the entire series.

Commenting on the announcement of the July edition of DPT, which will also be the last DPT for 2018, Manish Adnani, Business Head- Poker of Delta Corp Ltd. said, “The fabric is constantly evolving and we continue to offer better structures for every successive series.Look forward to seeing a lot more new faces and delivering a superlative experience to all the players on and off the tables in Goa. See you at the tables.”

Delta Corp and its subsidiary Adda52, have been successfully organising DPT events in Goa for the past few years. The previous edition of DPT Colossus held in April 2018 was endorsed by star West Indian cricketer Chris Gayle, who also participated in the tournament.

Read more about online and offline poker in India.

Categories
Poker

Feature: PokerBaazi CEO Navkiran Singh shares his thoughts on the burgeoning online poker scene and perception issues associated with the game

In this special interview, PokerBaazi founder  Navkiran Singh, a graduate of Manipal Institute of Technology discusses how he got involved in the poker industry, his struggle to convince his family about the viability of the poker business, PokerStars’ impact on Indian poker websites and much more.

Full interview:

Q. In the past couple of years, PokerBaazi has become one of the most well known online poker brands in India with over 2.5 lakh players. Can you briefly tell us about your background and what prompted you to start a poker website?

Navkiran Singh (Navi): I was in college when poker happened to me. It was during my engineering years that I developed interest in poker. Generally, card games are treated as ‘gambling’ and my family was no different. But, the skill behind poker continued to fuel my passion for the game. After college, I joined a multinational company and quickly realized that poker is more than a time-pass for me. It intrigues me,  it challenges me- to outperform. And that was the motivation.

I come from a business family having roots in Amritsar, Punjab. Getting into business was always on the cards but venturing into poker was certainly not easy. To be able to convince my family initially seemed no less than climbing Mount Everest. But even Everest has been conquered and so was I eventually able to convince my parents for this venture. The best part is that once onboard, my family has been my rock solid support.

If I talk from business perspective- I had started seeing a steady growth in online poker before I decided to take a plunge. It took no rocket science to figure out that if poker could be such a big market in the west, a billion strong nation could only end up bigger. I felt the need of an indigenous poker software that could serve a world class experience.

The PokerBaazi brand, at core, is about giving a second to none customer support and a trustworthy transparent poker platform to the Indian community. We, as a team, have put in our blood, sweat and tears into it and I can proudly say that we definitely have raised the bar in the online poker space. I wish that the industry players follow same standards and maintain trust of the players and also help create awareness.

Q. Can you share some details like the growth rate, revenues and number of users etc. of PokerBaazi?

Navi: It gives me immense pride to share that we are continuing to achieve a growth rate of over 100%, year on year. Currently, there are close to 3 lakh registered users on PokerBaazi.com.

Q. Many online gaming companies have seen funding by investment companies, acquisitions and other M&A activity. Is PokerBaazi looking at any inorganic growth or investment opportunities?

Navi: In the past couple of years, the gaming industry in India has scaled incredible growth; and activities like M&A, and funding from investment companies are further going to enhance the growth. As an ardent patron of skill-based games, PokerBaazi will always welcome a strategic alliance that stipulates growth of the Indian poker industry.

Q. Recently you forayed into the fantasy sports by investing in a new fantasy sports venture, BalleBaazi. Can you tell us more about this venture and share your thoughts on the fantasy gaming space in India?

Navi: I believe, like poker, other sports also have huge scope in India. When we talk about the gaming industry, the potential is just endless. And, fantasy gaming is trending big time in the Indian gaming space right now. The advent of fantasy sports has converted a passive viewer into an active fan. If we talk in numbers- 67% of the 18 crore online Indian cricket fans are aware of fantasy sports. Today, smart phones are indispensable and 93% users prefer playing fantasy sports on their smart phones/tablets- you don’t want to stop but you don’t want to miss the fun also. Therefore, Fantasy gaming is that space where the urban youth engages with his favourite sport, incisively.

As a gaming platform, it has, and will always be a part of our endeavour to expand and grow online gaming in the country. It goes without saying, in a cricket-crazy country like India, fantasy cricket acquires a special place. Seeing a huge market potential and a very passionate team of BalleBaazi, we decided to go ahead with the venture.

Q. PokerStars launching an India facing website created a lot of flutter among poker operators and the player community. There is a sense that various websites are needlessly spending lot of money on guaranteed tournaments and offers etc. What are your thoughts on PokerStars entry into India and its impact on domestic operators and players?

Navi: As an operator and a player, I would like to highlight the fact that guarantees are not related to any operator coming in. We have been doing PokerBaazi Premier League and MoneyMaker for a long time now, even before anybody knew when PokerStars would come to India.

I see PokerStars India as a positive challenge. As long as operators focus on growing the industry which has tremendous scope, it’s only going to be positive. It’s going to be more impactful for the newly launched websites. For them, I believe it is going to be more challenging now.

Q. A lot of poker leagues are coming up in India. You have been associated with one of them as a sponsor for one season. Do you see PokerBaazi participating in terms of buying a team or starting a poker league?

Navi: We are associated with the Match India Poker League (MIPL). We were not just the title sponsors of Team Haryana Hawks; we also had a stake in the team. As a poker playing and promoting platform, PokerBaazi will always be eager in extending help and support to the growth of this sport.

We will certainly not miss a chance to give our players a good offline experience when the time is right.

Q. PokerBaazi has roped in celebrities like Sunny Leone and Vijender Singh to endorse it. What prompted you to co-opt celebrities? Has it helped in changing the perception about poker in India?

Navi: Certainly! We were the first ones to get a Bollywood celebrity onboard as our Brand Ambassador and now a stellar sportsman. These people have a huge fan-following. When a sports personality like Vijender Singh, who has been honored with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award and the Padma Shri, endorses poker, that in itself becomes a source to change the perception about the game. See, Rome was not built in a day- it will take time to broaden the horizon, we have already started working towards it; and we can already see the new waves.

Q. There are still some legal questions on poker and skill games, with different courts giving divergent opinions. How do you see the debate on the legality of poker being settled?

Navi: When it comes to legality, we have to understand that the system works in a certain way. Sometimes, it is more time-consuming than we expect it to be, or want it to be. But, we have to let the process take its course. Monumental changes do not happen overnight. Having said that, I do trust in the system and I am confident that things will only move in the positive direction.

Q. Finally, any parting thoughts on how you see the poker industry evolving in the next few years?

Navi: The games and tournaments have seen an exponential growth. In the coming years, I am confident of a good growth in the number of poker players in the country. With people choosing poker as a profession and the increasing acceptance of the game as a mind sport, I foresee this industry growing multifold. Poker industry has already come a long way, but, we still have miles to go before we sleep.