An overview of the Indian Cricket gaming industry

As part of my ongoing series on India’s love for cricket, for the 2nd part of this analysis, I’d like to document my views of the cricket gaming industry.

My travel experience in India made me realize the die-hard love Indians have for Cricket. To some, cricket might just be another sport but if you live in India or have ever visited India, you know for certain that it is not just a sport, it’s a lifestyle.

The dhols and bands played after team India wins and the mourns that are observed if there is loss made me feel the significance of Cricket in the everyday lives of Indians. In the countless homestays I’ve done, playing cricket and scoring some runs for your team would make the whole Sunday better for Indian kids and families.

One can surely say that though cricket is invented by English people it has been ruled by the Indians. It has become the most profitable sport in India.

India has produced so many legends that have created so many world records that they are pretty hard to beat. No matter which country you are from, if you love cricket, there is a high chance that you idolize an cricket Indian legend. As an example of the audacity and impact of cricket in India, when Sachin Tendulkar was in his prime and he didn’t score good runs in a match, it would cause the stock market to crash. Whenever there is a match between India and Pakistan a billion people would tune in to watch the match.

Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has a valuation of almost $2 billion which is the most valued cricket board of any country by far. The closest cricket board in terms of valuation is Cricket South Africa, which is worth around $79 million.

As an avid gamer myself, and having been in the casino industry for decades, I would like to do a deep dive into cricket exchanges. One of the best Indian cricket exchanges that I’ve used is Sona9. Granted I haven’t used them a lot (I’ve only used them for the purposes of research for this blog).

Cricket Exchange is a fancy word and a sophisticated phrase commonly known as ‘Satta’. Even though it remains illegal in most of the parts of the country, it remains one of the largest industries in India.

At every nukkads and corner of any city in the country, you would find people gambling at tea stalls and bars. There are satta-specific bazaars in some cities too.

Cricket is the most betted on sport in India. The availability of betting options is endless. Countless permutations exist. From betting on the winning team, to betting on an individual’s score, to which side will play how many overs, to what the final score of both teams will be, and many more.

The most common bet that people make is as straightforward as it gets; betting on one of the three outcomes, either a home team win, loss or draw.

Take a guess as to how much is being better yearly and I’d wager you probably underestimated it.

The illegal betting market in India is worth a whopping $150 billion! Yes, you read that right! The average one day International match alone sees $200 million worth of betting.

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry suggested the government legalize betting, and by doing that the government would earn around Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 12,000 crores every single year.

If you wanted to bet on Cricket as a newcomer, you’d probably have to use a cricket exchange as bookies won’t take (physical) bets from unknown people. You’d need to bet with a referee that has an existing relationship with a bookie. The referee would be apportioned a certain amount and the rest would be in hands of bookies.

Though Cricket betting for the most part I think is a healthy form of entertainment, there is something to be said about the dark side of it. It is not uncommon to hear of people in India that are willing to bet huge amounts, sometimes their life savings, in hopes of their favourite team winning. Many livelihoods are affected by this sort of betting.

I am not for nor against the existence or legalisation of cricket betting in India. To each their own. For a person like me who loves numerical proficiency and analysis, it is always a fun task to analyze how the match is going to end!

India’s love for cricket – a history.

In my travels through India, I’ve never come across a sport more popular than cricket. It is an extremely fascinating culture that I want to dive into. I’ll be doing a series of posts to explore Indian cricket culture. Coming from a gaming background, I’ll bring some of my insights into my observations.

Cricket in India has a long history and enjoys lots of importance. This is considered to be an 18th-century colonial import into this country. But with time, it was revered, loved and became a passion and heartthrob for the citizens of the country. Rather, this sport became the very identity of the Indians and is now part of their culture. It is simply impossible to think of life without cricket. Indian cricket without any doubt is considered to be the ‘de facto national game’. It has managed to garner the lion’s share when public attention is concerned. At the same time, it also reigns supreme among all sports and enjoys excellent infrastructural and financial support. On the contrary, other games seem to languish in varying degrees for want of following and support.

This article compares the Indian national teams of hockey and football with that of cricket. This way, it explores the main reasons for cricket to enjoy greater prominence over the sports played here. The contemporary Indian sporting scene reaffirms the dominance of this game. Cricket in India seems to monopolize as well as enjoy public adulation, thereby deriving better financial status. However, other games excluding soccer are found to suffer from stepmotherly treatment.

British colonial legacy

Cricket has its origin in England. It was the officers of the British East India Company who had introduced this game in India. This game started with being a mere entertainment for the British officers. Later on, native Indians who served them took keen interest in this sport. Clement Downing, a British sailor had compiled a book named ‘A History of Indian Wars’ in 1737. He had mentioned the very first cricket match held in India in 1721 between British sailors. The match took place at Khambhat, close to the western seaboard.

With English sports and traditions being introduced in the country, the colonizers managed to have a cultural superiority. They used it to justify their rule over the natives. However, some Indians were involved actively to promote this sport by adopting it.

The Parsis, considered to be an ethnic minority group in India, were enterprising traders having close ties with the British. They were found to be more enthusiastically involved in this sport. They had formed cricket teams by the mid-1800s.

English sports slowly, but steadily surpassed the traditionally played Indian games like local wrestling, etc. concerning popularity. Other pastimes like ‘Kabaddi’ which is regarded to be a team sport got organized in the 1920s similar to English sports. It formed its federations, rules and held formal competitions.

But a fierce debate is found to have ranged concerning this British influence until India got independence in 1947. Cricket contests took place between diverse ethnic groups. The student group during those days viewed such contests to be a ‘slow poison’ for the young minds. They considered it to be a British strategy to divert the youths from the path of Independence. However, local contests witnessed a huge number of native cricket fans flocking the ground to enjoy the game. An annual tournament called the Bombay Pentangular was held between different teams. It comprised of Europeans, Hindus, Parsis, Muslims including people from other minority faiths.

Colonialism to Commerce

India’s thumping win in England in 1971 is considered to be the main turnaround in Indian cricket. The Indian cricket team managed to defeat their former colonizers at their home turf and in their own game. However, the big win came in 1983 when the Indian cricket team under its Captain Kapil Dev managed to win the World Cup. The game was held in London at Lord’s, considered to be the ‘Mecca of cricket’.

Besides enjoying immense success internationally, cricket in India had become a multi-billion dollar industry. The IPL (Indian Premier League) was inaugurated in 2008 and featured a fast-faced variety referred to as Twenty20. These matches are held for about three hours and promote the offensive, aggressive play.

According to International Cricket Council CEO, David Richardson, IPL helped India become the epicenter of the modern cricketing world.

Best Food in Mumbai

I visited Mumbai city, considered to be India’s financial hub. It is also stated to be the ‘city that never sleeps’. The Queen’s Necklace is a favorite spot among locals and travelers alike at night for its glittering lights. But the street foods of Mumbai attract food lovers in huge numbers to try out several delicacies. Although there is not much presentation, the food served here is just fabulous.

1. Vada Pav

This is one of the most commonly sold food items in Mumbai. You can find them almost in any street that you pass by. It is also locally called the ‘Mumbai vegetarian burger’. It comprises mashed potatoes mixed with a variety of spices. It is then deep-fried and packed within a fluffy, white bun, garnished with varieties of spices and chutneys for seasoning. The chutney is what makes this pav interesting. Fried chilies provide a kick of flavor and heat.

Ashok Vada Pav close to Kriti College Dadar is the place to be to have legendary versions.

2. Sev Puri

The Chaat comprises several savory snacks prepared in India. I have consumed different types, with Mumbai sev puri being my personal favorites. There is a flat puri, essential a small round chip that is topped with onions, mashed potatoes, sev, cilantro, chili sauces, tamarind and garlic. It provides an amazing balance of flavor. A handful of sev is then sprinkled on the top of the sev puri along with some green sour mango bits.

Some places to try are Sadguru (Chembur) and Shiv Sagar (they have branches at Vile Parle, Churchgate, Juhu and Bandra West).

3. Bhelpuri

This is another street food commonly found along the beaches of Juhu and Girgaum Chowpatty. It comprises puffed rice with sev, mixed with tomatoes, onions, potatoes, cilantro and different types of chutneys. The crunchy snack is sweet spicy and tangy from the sauces introduced, with an amazing balance of flavor.

Om Sai Sagar Chaat Centre at Juhu Beach is a popular spot to consume tasty bhelpuri.

4. Rolls & Kebabs

Mumbai boasts of having several legendary restaurants offering delicious rolls and kebabs. My personal favorite is Mumbai Bhuna rolls. Boneless chicken is cooked properly in gravy filled with a variety of spices. Then it is wrapped in freshly prepared rumali roti (a thin roti quite similar to that of a tortilla). It is the perfect and flavorful late-night snack for those who love non-vegetarian foods.

Bademiya in Colaba is the place to be to enjoy the delicious kebabs and rolls.

5. Pav Bhaji

The pav bhaji is considered to be native to Mumbai and a favorite among the locals consumed in-between meals, lunch and dinner. It is an orange-red mixture of cooked vegetables comprising potatoes, cauliflower, beans, onions, peas, tomatoes and carrots. Then, it is topped with grated cheese or butter in thin layers or both. It is served with generously buttered and lightly toasted buttered bun (pav). The spicy bhaji and buttery pav are just an irresistible combination.

Tardeo (Sardar Pav Bhaji) is the best place to be to enjoy this.

There are a whole lot of street foods to try out in Mumbai and the above is a mere beginning.

Mumbai’s Nightlife

In this post, I explore Mumbai’s nightlife.

Mumbai, the financial hub of India did impress me a lot, especially its nightlife. I believe its nightlife does have its own life. The city lights once up at night provide a better glimpse of a completely different world. I found eerie silence on the otherwise bustling streets. It is claimed that this city never sleeps. I just fell in love with this city due to its diverse exciting nightlife activities. The late-night cuisines, parties, food, aesthetics, etc. are what makes this city worth the visit.

Places to enjoy after sundown in Mumbai

1. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus

This monument is considered a popular UNESCO World Heritage and a wonderful place to visit during nighttime. The terminus boasts of colonial-era buildings, illuminated with beautiful, colorful lights. It is regarded as an important icon here.

2. Gateway of India

It is regarded to be the city’s guardian angel and appears aesthetically pleasing at night time. The illuminated Gateway is well complemented by the Arabian Sea. It provides a sense of ease and calm, something rare in this otherwise bustling city, where people lack time. The Gateway does attract locals and travelers in huge numbers even during nighttime. Many come here to enjoy late-night tasty snacks and some quiet time. Moreover, the sea’s aroma combined with the still city provides an amazing experience.

3. Marine Drive

It is undoubtedly the city’s postcard image and quite alluring. The Boulevard stretches for about 3.6 km and is among the world’s busiest roads. However, the iconic road when illuminated with street lights appears mesmerizing. With the vast city on one side and the Arabian Sea on the other side, going on a drive on this road offers immense pleasure.

4. Juhu Beach

This is one of the most popular spots to be at night in Mumbai. The waves of the Arabian Sea hitting the beach shores and the cool breeze flowing are a favorite among the locals and travelers. It does offer a completely new experience. There are also several food stalls and restaurants open at odd hours to serve delicious cuisine to hungry travelers.

5. Mumbai Bars, Nightclubs and Lounges

This city is vibrant and filled with life, something that can be experienced at the bars and nightclubs here. There are numerous places designed to suit every mood. It can be a simple night out with a friend or your better-half. The different clubs, lounges and bars do add excitement to the otherwise boring life. Numerous options are available to fit all moods and budgets. A hot favorite among foreigners is ‘Leopold Café’, popular for its beers. Other options available are Valhalla, Wink, Opium Den, Busaba, Czar, Dome, Tote on the Turf, Toto’s Garage, China House, Tryst, Amadeus, etc.

6. Late-Night Delicacies

With people settling here from different parts of the country, it is easy to find diverse food options here even at midnight. Several late-night eating joints are present catering delicious food to the night owls. Some popular places are Zaffran, Bade Miya, Sardar Pav Bhaji, Sukh Sagar, etc.

One night in Delhi (Delhi nightlife)

I’ve spent considerable time exploring Delhi during my travels through India, absorbing the culture from the lens of locals. For the most part, I stayed with foster families for several weeks each, to really see how they live; enough time for the novelty of hosting a foreigner to wear off and thus bring out the honest local experience.

This post is part of a series of posts where I explore one facet of local living in Delhi. Today’s facet – nightlife.

Delhi, the capital of India is well known for its rich culture, heritage and monuments. Besides the architectural grandeur and government secretariats, I was impressed with its intoxicating nightlife. There are indeed numerous popular night out spots to visit.

1. Little Owl Café

Located near Noida Metro Station, Sector 18, is a cozy café providing simple, but delicious spreads. It includes mac and cheese, sandwiches, Maggi noodles, etc. Also, they offer hookahs of different exciting flavors. They charge about Rs. 400 for two.

2. Mocha Art House

Located in Vasant Kunj’s DLF complex, this café and open-air hookah bar is perfect to spend quality time with friends and loved ones until morning. It is an amazing place to visit for youngsters to enjoy their night out. They charge about Rs. 1,400 for two.

3. E&Y Dhaba

Located in Gurgaon, this Dhaba does boast of serving some delicious home-made North Indian cuisines. My favorites were egg bhurji, aloo parathas, keema parathas and garam chai. The cost per person is around Rs. 350.

4. 24/7

This place offers a variety of mouthwatering snacks even at midnight. Plenty of people can be seen hanging with their friends enjoying the chilled beer.  

5. Pandara Road – India Gate

This is the place for night owls that have a passion for street food. Several restaurants and food stalls throng the place. They serve delicacies like papdi chaat, pani puri, chaats, etc.

6. The Blue Bar:

Located within the ‘Taj Palace Hotel’, it is among the top places to enjoy late-night parties in Delhi city. It offers a romantic, cozy ambiance while being a favorite hangout for all party lovers. There is a beautiful pool along with outdoor seating arrangements to help relax the tired mind and body. The Taj’s sprawling gardens and the view of the pool are magnificent. It is located at Sardar Patel Marg. Prices range around Rs. 3,900 for two.

8. Club Pangaea

This club is a part of Hotel Ashok, located in Chanakyapuri. It is a popular spot for club hoppers as well as a classic elegant club. This place caters to a selected profile. The intoxicating red lamps, purple cushioned décor and Renaissance ambiance tend to set the right mood to enjoy the night. The price charged for two is approximately Rs. 4,000.

9. Kitty Su

Being part of the much prestigious Lalit Hotel, it is considered among the city’s elite clubs. It is the perfect place to enjoy all-night DJ parties. Its spacious and well-designed discotheque appeals to young crowds. The DJs churn out varieties of music-making the crowd swing to their beats! It includes reggae, R&D, retro combined with other music. It is located in Connaught Place. The prices charged for two are around Rs. 5,000.

10. Ghungroo

This bar is present within ITC Sheraton. It is frequented by a mixed crowd providing them with a classic ambiance and Retro music. Price charged for two is around Rs. 1,500.

The most popular sports in India

Having in the gaming and casino scene for a majority of my career, I’ve developed a keen interest in sports. Since the beginning of civilization, there has existed rigid dichotomy between sports and the gaming industry.

Sports is an interesting anthropological phenomenon. It serves no purpose in production nor the facilitation of economic resources. The opposite is true in fact; it requires extensive resource allocation for now tangible output. Yet since the dawn of civilization, it’s been in existence. Sports has been used as a political and entertainment tool, to unite or distract the population.

In this blog, I take a look at the most popular sports in India.

1. Cricket

Introduced by the British during the colonial era, this game is considered to be more of religion here. Indian cricket boasts a very large fan base not seen elsewhere. Several reasons are cited behind its sustained popularity. Matches are telecasted regularly while premier sporting channels promote them. Indian cricket since the winning of the first World Cup trophy in 1983 has always been in contention for the top spot. It has given birth to several Indian legends like Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar, MS Dhoni, Anil Kumble, etc. This sport also enjoys mega endorsements.

2. Football

It is the world’s most popular sport but regarded as an enigma in India. Sepp Blatter, the former FIFA President calls this sport a ‘sleeping giant’. It seems to be more of a spectator sport in India. The ISL has managed to garner a good follower base though. Additionally, the game is bolstered by the European club tournament fans, thus increasing the game’s popularity in India. One of the most viewed sports leagues is the Premier League. The popular European football bodies have helped generate the younger Indian crowd to promote the sport in the country.

3. Badminton

Although badminton has been played in the country for quite a long time, it is only recently that Indian players are gaining fame internationally. Players like Saina Nehwal won the bronze medal in 2012 at London Olympics. P.V. Sindhu, her younger counterpart managed to surpass Nehwal’s achievements. In 2016, she picked up a silver medal at the Rio Games. There are also other well-known players like Jwala Gutta, K. Shrikant and Ashwini Ponnapa. The Premier Badminton League was launched by the BAI (Badminton Association of India) in 2013 to promote the game.

4. Kabaddi

It is one of the oldest sports played across India. It has managed to enjoy the center stage once again in Indian sports with the launch of the Pro-Kabaddi League in 2014. PKL is considered to occupy the second spot just next to IPL in terms of popularity. It enjoys a huge viewer base including willing sponsors. The world’s top two playing nations are India and Iran. Until 2017, India managed to win all World Cups held.

5. Hockey

Although considered to be the national sport of the country, the game is still trying to climb back to the heights of its golden years. During the golden years, every Indian team had managed to win gold medals at the Olympic Games. The country dominated world hockey with 8 Olympic gold medals led by the legendary player Dhyan Chand. However, the introduction of new rules of playing on an artificial turf did not work well for the team. Thus, it saw a gradual decline. 2013 saw the launch of the HIL (Hockey India League) taking a cue from the IPL model. The FIH (Federation of International Hockey) recognized the tournament, allowing top players from various nations to participate with a thirty-day window.

6. Wrestling

This sport enjoys a striking undercurrent in rural India. The Indian team has won several medals by participating in several major tournaments. Indian wrestling is more synonymous with the akhada sports style. Indian grapplers managed to create a strong impression on the international stage. Since 2008, the team earned a medal at each Olympic game played. The most successful Olympian is Sushil Kumar, who won twice in the Olympics. Box-office hits like Dangal and Sultan have further popularized the game.

Best Delhi Markets

I spent some quality time in Delhi, the capital of India. This city does boast of having a diverse cultural and historical identity. From antiques and handicrafts in Sundar Nagar to luxury brands available at DLF Emporio, the capital overflows with bazaars, malls and markets. The open-air market ‘Dilli Haat’ features both transitional and permanent vendors. It resembles that of the traditional village market, designed to showcase products from all over the country. Paharganj, located close to New Delhi Railway Station, is another popular shopping spot, locally called the Hippie Market. It offers bargain-friendly jewelry, incense, textiles, clothes, shoes, bags, etc.

Paharganj and Dilli Haat are both bustling, vibrant markets. There are also other shopping markets that deserve special mention.

1. Kamla Nagar

I have visited this traditional market several times and found very few foreigners coming here. Based in Old Delhi, it is a favorite among the locals for their day-to-day goods. I came across household items, clothes, stationery, bangles, etc. Henna (Mehendi) is popular here with artists sitting on stools in front of picture books.

2. Janpath

This marketplace houses both open-air stalls and government-approved shops. Here, I found traditional clothing items, shoe carpets, jewelry, clothing, textiles, handicraft, furniture, paintings and accessories. You need to bring cash (in Rupees). Many shops do not accept credit cards. Do enjoy De Paul’s cold coffee. It is served with a straw in a glass.

3. Chandni Chowk

This market is claimed to be established in 1650 A.D. by Shah Jahan, the Mughal Emperor. It is also Shahjahanabad’s (Old Delhi) busiest and oldest market. There are two historical sites on either side, namely, Fatehpur Masjid and the Lal Qila (Red Fort). Within walking distance is India’s largest mosque, the Jama Masjid.

There are numerous shops here that specialize in leather goods, spices, crafts, silver and silk. Several renowned restaurants, sweet shops and food stands adorn the market. Notable ones are Ghantewala Halwai, Bikaner Sweet Shop, Meghraj & Sons and the original Haldiram’s. The locality also boasts a labyrinth of neighborhoods, small streets, and historic private residences.

Chandni Chowk is considered to be Asia’s ‘Most Crowded Street’. It has exceptionally narrow side streets, and not much personal space. Travelers can easily get lost in the flurry of activities taking place here.

4. Khan Market

It ranks among the world’s most expensive commercial locations while boasting of numerous restaurants and shops. Also present are moderately priced stores such as Amrapali (jewelry) and Fabindia (garments). Forest Essentials is my personal favorite as it offers Ayurvedic body and bath products. There is an Italian jaunt named Big Chill Café that serves delicious lunch options. Take the metro to avoid getting stuck in Delhi traffic and to enjoy greater accessibility. It is the world’s first metro to receive an environmental-friendly construction certification.