PokerStars Stakes Its Claim in India while Waiting for the US Regulation

  • If everything goes as planned, PokerStars will deal its first hand of online poker in India later this year
  • The expansion to India should help offset the likely loss of the Australian online poker market

India has been on the radar of online casino companies for a while now, waiting for the right moment to come to corner the huge, untapped market. That moment may have come as the industry giant, Amaya-owned PokerStars, is in the final stages of negotiations that would bring them to the Indian subcontinent.

With the population of 1.3 billion and the expanding smartphone market, India represents an excellent opportsunity for gaming operators. According to current projections, Indian gambling market should be worth around $1 billion within the next four years, and online poker will contribute some $150 million of this number.

A balancing game

According to Raif Ashkenazi, the current Amaya CEO, the company sees the potential of this new market and they want to get there in time, setting themselves to become a leading online poker provider in the country. Amaya is getting ready to finalize a deal with an already licensed operator in the country, which should enable them to start offering their services to residents of India later this year.

Apart from wanting to expand to new markets, Amaya and PokerStars as its leading brand also need to find a way to offset likely losses that will be caused by the exit from Australia. Namely, Australia is getting ready to implement new online gambling laws, and in their current form, these laws won’t give online poker operators a chance to apply for a license.

Unless certain initiatives within the country bear fruit, PokerStars will likely have to leave this big and important market very soon, which is bound to have a significant financial impact on the company.

The US struggle continues

The United States of America is another country on the PokerStars radar. The company already has a presence in the US via PokerStars New Jersey, but any future expansions hang in the balance, as they depend on the willingness of the lawmakers to create a legal framework for online poker, either in individual states or on the federal level.

Furthermore, PokerStars still have to deal with the ‘bad actor’ clause, which can prevent the site from entering certain regulated markets in the States, like California.
While there is no doubt that the USA is a big potential market that PokerStars would love to corner once again, this is unlikely to happen before a full-scale federal regulation is in place.

Looking at the efforts put forth so far by the lawmakers, it would be very optimistic to expect anything to happen on the federal level within the next few years, so PokerStars will need to find some other markets to tackle in the interim if they want to continue the expansion.

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