Can Online Poker Maintain it’s Mini-Boom Post-COVID-19 Lockdown

Online poker has enjoyed a minor resurgence during the COVID-19 lockdown. We recently saw a five-year record for traffic across all sites. While this is welcome news it is far from certain that things will stay this way once the lockdown ends.

By: Mark Patrickson

Sat Home with Little to Do

The increase in the number of players at the virtual tables is great news, but we mustn’t forget that there is a clear reason for this.

Most of the world is living under lockdown with millions fighting boredom for most of their waking hours. It’s natural that anyone with even a slight interest in poker has considered playing some hands.

Online entertainment of all kinds is booming with the likes of Netflix seeing a 50% rise in share price.

This is all good and well, but what happens to everything once the people are free to do as they wish with all options back on the table.

The number of casual punters has risen over the last two months which is still surprising because there is almost no sport left to bet on. Apart from poker anyone wanting a flutter is pretty much limited to casino games and the lottery.

There is also the upcoming economic recession that will be felt keenly worldwide. For the rest of the year many people simply won’t have the expendable cash to be gambling with.

It’s not a lost cause though, because the online poker world has many positive things going for it for the near future.

What Needs to Happen

Patrick Leonard recently kicked off a discussion about the health of the online tournament scene. His quality over quantity argument was well-received with Rob Yong promising to make changes if all other major sites followed.

Sportsbook operators have been reported to have shown a revived interest in providing online poker. These companies didn’t see the game as a useful part of their business model but now they are changing their mind.

This isn’t only because of the lockdown. Bookmakers are ruthless in how they attract customers who then get into the habit of a regular spend. There has to be a worry now that many punters will discover that poker is a much more fun pursuit than betting on sports.

Sportsbetting is a tough gig to earn a long-term profit at, and no doubt some of these gamblers will be enticed at how easy micro stakes poker is. Good entertainment and a regular profit to boot.

US regulation is progressing steadily. This has to be a positive even if you argue it’s taking too long. The numbers in the fully legalised US states have looked healthier over the last 8 weeks.

TV poker in the US is threatening to come back in a big way. Old favourites are being rebooted with the new wave of stars we currently have as well as some of the greats of the past.

The biggest key to maintaining a boom state in online poker is what we were all praying for in the first place. The growth of the game in India and China. It isn’t clear exactly how well both countries have been doing during the lockdown but we do know that figures are up somewhat.

The Natural8 platform is currently full of Chinese residents no doubt enticed by the exciting double festival lineup with the WSOP Super Circuit and the Asian Poker Tour both running this month.

So, lots of positive things happening right now that could keep online poker looking healthy for years to come.


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