Diwali causes spike in Indian gambling and windfall for operators
Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, is this Saturday, November 14. Gambling is a huge part of the holiday, and with the state trying to crack down on unlicensed gambling, lots of Indians will be going online to get their gambling fix.
Baazi Games, Stickpool and Pocket 52 look like they will be doing big business over the holiday weekend. “The COVID-19 pandemic has forced people to stay at home and rethink their lives and has thereby affected the way they choose to entertain themselves,” Baazi Games CEO Navkiran Singh told Financial Express. “This has just accelerated the growth we were already projecting for the industry. We expect and encourage people to maintain social distancing norms and enjoy gaming online this festive season.”
Although poker is the main product of Pocket52, they make sure to target those who want to keep their Diwali routines going. “Apart from a regular poker player, some occasional and recreational poker players come and play during Diwali,” said Pocket52 CEO and founder Nitesh Salvi. “We have Diwali Freerolls with guaranteed real cash prize pools worth Rs 3 lakh up for action this Diwali.”
Stickpool is seeing a huge increase in its user base ahead of Diwali, and Pocket52 expects as much as a 45% increase in its own user base. “People want to experience the game of poker around this time and therefore the engagement and average time spent per user has also gone up from regular days,” said Stickpool co-founder Vivek Singh.
Having professional and slick card sites to play on during the year of Covid is far preferrable to getting sick or arrested. In Guwahati, police are on the lookout for illegal gambling operations, and they will shut down your card game if they find it.
In the South East locality of Panjabari in Guwahati, police recently caught three men gambling, and seized Rs 4,030 ($53.99) from their game. They also raided a dice game, but suspects fled from that scene, with police only managing to arrest one drunken man.
Officer-in-Charge Sunil Kalita noted that the majority of gambling cases in Guwahati have started popping up since the beginning of Lakhmi Puja, the five-day festival that Diwali is the capper for. But the police have a difficult time cracking down on these due to the difficulty of terrain. “The operation in remote areas has always been there, especially in the hills of Amching Jorabat and Panjabari,” said Kalita.
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