The historic state of Karnataka covers a huge area of southwest India. Its population is now more than 61 million – many more than many established well-known nations around the world.
The capital and biggest city of Bangalore is a thriving economic hub while the state’s growing economy is also massive – earning much more than many countries around the world.
But what do all these people do? The popular image around the rest of India may be that they speak classic Kannada (plus a wide range of other languages including Sanskrit),.
They are also known for enjoying some very highly rated health care and a range of sports. But what are the newer things that Karnataka people increasingly do in their leisure time?
From traditional folk arts like dance and story-telling to a local love of FM radio stations, the region has always had a diverse popular culture. Experts have noted things moving rapidly in a new direction in recent years however.
It’s still true that sports like field hockey, swimming and tennis are very popular – although the subcontinent’s favourite game, cricket, still usually pulls the biggest crowds everywhere.
Increasingly though, industry experts have noted that residents of Karnataka have embraced the growing world of online gaming. From internet video fantasy adventures to playing different types of unique variations of poker game. More and more Indians from this region are accessing the latest forms of remote digital fun.
This growing passion for online activities has been fuelled by the worldwide digital revolution. More and more southern Indians have been able to access the internet from their remote devices in recent years.
As a game of skill rather than pure luck, poker has been one of the big beneficiaries of this boom in internet gaming. But the game of poker already has a long history on the sub-continent.
Card players have long been fans of the game that involves mental arithmetic, strategic decisions and keeping a cool head. From smoky back rooms to hastily arranged tables in the street, physical card games have been part of local activity for many years.
But recent positive decisions about online poker from the national government and the Karnataka High Court have helped smooth the way for the rapid increase in the virtual form of the game: internet poker. The table form of poker is still played with real physical cards of course – but it is the online form that is now seeing the very big increase in numbers.
Today the game is being played casually by many young people in Karnataka, perhaps on the way to work or for a quiet evening in. And it is also undergoing a surge among serious players too – with many treating it as a way to try to make money.
In fact the big 2022 National Poker Series was held in the neighbouring state of Goa. This prestigious tournament featured many local players who are using their mathematical and strategic skills to play poker professionally.
After the tournament, the organisers were also very positive about the future of the game in India. With its focus on skill and tactics, online poker seems to be booming across the generations.
Internet gaming in India is estimated to earn around a billion US dollars a year already – but experts are predicting this could grow tenfold by 2030. There are believed to be around 300 million online gamers in India already.
That figure is only likely to grow with the increasing spread of mobile devices and internet coverage in Karnataka. The authorities have already established a robust legal framework to control and regulate the online gaming industry.
At the same time more and more reputable and secure poker platforms are emerging across the subcontinent. Players are always advised to use a reputable, licensed site for the safest and smoothest playing experience.
Players should always look for the correct licensing details prominently displayed on any online gaming site. Also check the financial transaction process is clear and secure with options to use familiar credit cards and payment systems.
Industry insiders are expecting online poker to grow still further over the next few years. In Karnataka it seems to appeal particularly to the younger players who are looking for a game of skill, not chance.
Some Indian commentators have suggested that poker is now more like a sport – and should be treated like that legally. Some players are certainly practising, training and performing as if it was a sport.
While it may not be a team sport like the popular Karnataka pastimes of cricket and hockey.
Online poker is very much a demanding, skilful and exciting game that is played by individuals against other individuals.
Perhaps that means it fits with the independent and individualistic mood of the times in Karnataka.
Cover Photo by Abhas Jaiswal:
Note: Newskarnataka advises its readers to be aware of the risks involved, and comply with all locally applicable laws and regulations in this regard.