International cricket star Chris Gayle has become the latest famous face to join the rapidly expanding poker scene in India.
According to a press release issued this week, Gayle will promote the forthcoming Deltin Poker Tournament Colossus in Goa. As well as using his international status to promote the event, Gayle will be among the players anteing up between April 26 and 29.
Organized by Delta Corp and Indian online poker site Adda52, the Colossus is a bi-monthly high roller with prizepools typically reaching $300,000.
Worldwide Cricket Power
For many cricket fans, the Gayle’s appearance at the Deltin Royale Casino will be the first time they’ve seen him at the poker table.
Despite being described as an “avid poker player” by Glaws.in, Gayle doesn’t have quite the same résumé as other sports stars who have stepped into poker. However, while his poker credentials might not be world-class, his reputation in cricket is.
In addition to playing international cricket for the West Indies, Gayle currently plays in the Indian Premier League for the Kings XI Punjab. Watched by more than 213 million each week, the Indian Premier League is a major organization in India and Gayle is one of its stars.
In a recent outing against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Gayle saluted the crowd as he scored 104 not out to help his team to 15-point victory.
Utilizing local celebrities is something that’s become a common trend across the poker scene in India. At the close of 2017, the Poker Sports League (PSL) signed India’s leading chess player, Viswanathan Anand, while online operator PokerBaazi recruited Olympic boxer Vijender Singh in January 2018.
In addition to lending a famous face to the emerging poker brands, the use of sporting figures is designed to give poker an air of legitimacy. With regulation evolving on a state-by-state basis, some regions are battling against the notion that poker is a form of gambling in the same way as casino games.
The Gujarat High Court recently ruled against a petition calling for poker to be classified as a game of skill and, therefore, exempt from current gambling laws. In contrast, the state of Nagaland has taken a more progressive attitude, regulating online poker and giving out its first license to Khelo365 in December 2016.
While the use of professional athletes might not tip the balance in states opposed to poker, it should certainly help bring more attention to the game. This, in turn, could lead more discussions about how to best regulate the industry across the country as a whole.