Indian Online Poker Startup Achieves Industry First with Series A Funding

October 1st, 2018 | by Brian Corlisse

The evolution of India’s online poker industry continues as fledgling site 9stacks becomes the first operator to raise money through a Series A funding model.

PokerRaj founder Raj Kundra (seen here with wife Shilpa Shetty) has been instrumental in supporting India’s thriving poker scene. (Image:

Announced on October 1, the initiative will see 9Stacks receive 28 crore (approx. $3.8 million) to develop its product and expand its reach across India. According to the company’s press release, the fundraising effort is the first time an Indian poker site has achieved this type of financial backing.

WaterBridge Not Gambling on Poker

Leading the first round of funding is WaterBridge Ventures, a company that describes itself as a “venture catalyst for tech entrepreneurship in India.” Among the investment firm’s diverse portfolio of startups is lending platform ZipLoan and used-vehicle marketplace BlueJack.

For the team behind 9Stacks, the funding has been a testament to the growth of online poker in India.

“This is a great sign of confidence in the 9stacks team, the systems and processes we’ve put in place, in addition to the rapidly growing market itself,” 9Stacks CEO Sudhir Kamath said.

With a population of more than one billion, India has become a major growth market for poker. But with lawmakers currently divided on its status, regulation could be described as piecemeal at best.

Despite a lack of agreement across the country, states such as Nagaland have introduced their own laws that have allowed operators to gain a foothold in the market. 9Stacks will be aiming to compete the leading brands and capitalize on India’s growing interest in poker with its newfound wealth.

MTV on Board

As 9Stacks announced an industry first, PokerRaj and its founder Raj Kundra have been busy preparing for the third season of the Match Indian Poker League (MatchIPL). Having already hosted two successful team events, the organization is now working with MTV to promote the new season.

Set to take place in Mumbai between October 23 and 24, the team tournament is a chance for India’s best to compete for real money prizes and for them to prove poker is a game of skill. As emphasized by MTV’s commercial, MatchIPL is framing poker as a sport and, therefore, distinct from games of chance.

Efforts like this are aimed at convincing politicians in states like Gujarat that the game isn’t a form of gambling. If MatchIPL and other pro-poker advocates can succeed in changing opinions across India, it will not only benefit PokerRaj, but also startups like 9Stacks.


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