While most of her friends spend their afternoons catching up on soap operas, Aditi Kohli, 35, a homemaker, simply logs on to play a game of online rummy.
“Over the past three months, it has become a daily ritual for me,” said Kohli, an Andheri resident, who spends more than four hours every day playing the online card game. “Since I am relatively free after completing my daily chores by the afternoon, online card games are a fun, money generating alternative,” added Kohli, who claimed to have earned Rs 10,500 from the game.
From early this year, online gaming portals such as Zapak.com, Ace2Three.com and Games24x7.com have included a series of skill-based games like rummy targeting homemakers.
“Playing cards is traditional entertainment in India. We wanted to launch something that was fun and challenging, but at the same time simple enough to attract household gamers,” said Deepak Abbot, product head, Zapak.com. “As rummy is skill-based, it does not come under the purview of the Public Gambling Act 1867,” said Abbot. However, games such as poker and teen patti, which involve luck and chance, are illegal, he said.
Players can log on and practise their game in the trial room, before putting in their money. Once confident, the gamers can purchase chips to play the real cash tournaments with a network of other users from across India. The users can also choose their own gaming network to comprise selected players. If they win, the real chips can be redeemed for cash through the website either through an online bank transfer or the cheque delivery option.
“I have even roped in my cousins,” said Mittal Patel, 35, a resident of Vashi, who claimed to have earned Rs 50,000. For Namrata Ahuja, 32, a Lokhandwala homemaker, it took a few weeks to convince her family that online gaming was not an “illegal gambling activity”.