Gaming and hospitality firm Delta Corp plans to start a hotel-cum-casino in the union territory of Daman, as it bets on rising demand for gaming destinations in the country.
Indians love to gamble like the Chinese, and the market exists here, said Delta Corp Chairman Jaydev Mody said in Mumbai during a media interaction.
"We feel we have scratched the surface in that sense and if the supply is there and the product is there, it can be as big a business [in India] as anywhere in the world."
The Daman gaming facility is awaiting few regulatory clearances and is likely to start next year. The group will also look for growth opportunities in Sikkim as well as in Sri Lanka and Nepal, Mody said. But the expansion will happen after the group writes down its Rs 330 crore debt, he added.
Delta Corp operates casinos and hotels under the Deltin brand. The company is the largest player in the organised gaming sector in India and has 200 live gaming tables at its casinos in Goa and Daman.
The group says its gaming business has grown 25 to 30 per cent annually since it started in 2006-07. Delta Corp has a market capitalisation of Rs 2,142 crore ($345 million) on the Bombay Stock Exchange.
Gaming and hospitality are its core businesses, though it has presence in the realty sector as well.
Mody said the branding exercise undertaken by the group earlier this year has provided it a strong brand identity.
"For us, the brand needed to have a strong gaming connotation and relevance. Deltin, which is a gaming term, is that strong brand for us. We needed to put all out products under one umbrella. Now the ownership is also known to customers. They go anywhere the product is known to them and they can identify that it is the same group. It gives the customers a sense of belonging," he said.
Gaming in India is a state subject and onshore live gaming is banned in most states. Goa and the union territories of Daman and Diu allow offshore live gaming, and these are Deltin's major markets.
The company recently tripled its capacity in Goa by upgrading its gaming facility at King's Casino following the purchase of MV Horseshoe Casino from US-based casino operator Caesar's Entertainment Corporation.
The casino business in Goa has a fair share of detractors, who have raised environment issues related to casino cruisers in Mandovi river. The state government is preparing detailed gaming regulations, and Mody says he is confident these will not hurt his business.
The casinos contribute Rs 150 crore annually to Goa government's coffers. A large part of that came from Deltin as it is the largest organised player.
Income from casinos is a windfall for the state as revenues from mining have dried up after a ban on extraction of minerals. "Mining is banned in Goa and there is no revenue coming in from there. Gaming has become an integral part of Goa. The government will formulate a plan and will let us know where they want us to go. It is as much in their interest as it is in ours," Mody said.
Mody said India has a great potential to evolve into a gaming destination. The country has an edge over other Asian gaming destinations like Macau and Singapore because it is cost-effective and convenient for Indians.
He also said he is not positioning the group as a hard-core gambling outfit for people who place big bets. "People want to have a good time, they want to come and relax. We are not here to provide hard-core gambling opportunity and [our products] are not betting shops. These are destinations," he said.
An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect dateline.