Online Poker Still Booming in 2020, Dan Bilzerian to Front Indian Poker Room, and Las Vegas Still in the Doldrums

Online poker is still doing well according to the figures recently reported. None more so than Paddy Power, Betfair and PokerStars owner Flutter Entertainment who claim a 35% year-on-year increase for the first half of this year.

Global sport might have been shut down for a while but that didn’t many keen sports bettors giving poker and casino gaming a try.

Chief Executive Peter Jackson told reporters: “Ultimately when no other form of entertainment is open to people, they couldn’t go out to bars, restaurants, couldn’t go to concerts, people were spending small amounts of money (on online gambling).”

Much of the traffic was small stakes with people just looking to entertain themselves. There was no sign of an increase in problem gambling during the coronavirus lockdown.

One positive change was the speed in which tournaments filled up. Previously some MTTs would come close to failing to meet the guarantee but this is no longer the case much of the time.

There has been a slight reduction in traffic as the world returns to normal but nothing significant.

PokerStars Rewards Changes

The PokerStars platform has announced a small change to their rewards program. Now players will be able to refuse the move to a bigger chest if they think it will take too long to unlock.

Players also used to have to wait until 50% progress was made and be within 10 days of the expiry date before cashing their points.

The PokerStars rewards scheme is a shadow of its former self but this is at least something positive for the recreational players.

partypoker

partypoker has upgraded their mobile app to function in portrait mode for MTTs. This change was something players had been asking for to make it easier to play with just one hand.

This might sound ridiculous to most readers but in this modern fast-paced world people have got used to multitasking. Some players will want to be able to play poker with just one hand while doing something else.

The new update makes it easy to play a tournament while on the move with all the controls packed tightly together.

MTT players will now also have access to the new Diamonds in-game currency. This isn’t something for serious players because they have no value, but they can be used to purchase “throwables”, a cheesy gimmick where you throw things at other players on your table.

They can also be used to rabbit hunt - check what cards would have come if you remained in the hand.

The partypoker US Network has announced they are to host the WPT Online Borgata Series in New Jersey. The platform hosted the WPT Online Poker Open in June which was a roaring success, and looks to build on the back of the current boost in online poker traffic.

The $1,060 WPT Online Borgata Series Main Event is the showpiece tournament for the festival with tons of satellites running daily from as little as $5.

Angelica Hael, VP of Global Tour Management for the World Poker Tour said: “WPT and partypoker US Network have created a unique festival for players of all bankrolls across New Jersey to compete in a weeklong series that combines the best of the live and online realm.”

Events such as this help the US market to maintain its customer base while the fight for full legalisation continues.

WPT Executive Tour Director, Matt Savage was happy to announce the partnership,adding: “Live tournament series at Borgata have been a staple of New Jersey poker for many years and the WPT has worked alongside the partypoker US Network team to bring the best assets of the live product into this online series including WPT-level structures, quality side events, and satellites for the main event.”

Vegas on Life Support

The situation in Las Vegas is not improving. In fact, many insiders are commenting that it may never be the same again.

The new normal understandably has put people off travelling to Sin City with most businesses on The Strip posting huge losses for the year. The situation post-reopening has not helped as much as hoped.

There are still plenty of businesses that haven’t even bothered to reopen, citing operating costs that don’t make it worth it given the low number of tourists.

Even the Sahara Las Vegas was rumoured to be closing for good until the execs put out a press release denying any plans to do so. A well-known blogger reported that news after visiting the casino and seeing barely anybody inside.

There will no doubt be some major casualties when this pandemic is all over and done with.

There was also some potentially damaging news from a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power called ProPublica. They issued a report claiming that Las Vegas casinos are contributing to the COVID-19 problem still far from being under control in the US.

Tribal casinos in Wisconsin are trialing a new way to combat COVID-19. An ultraviolet light system in the ventilation ducts is thought to help kill the virus captured when floating through the air.

A spokesman for UltraViolet Devices Inc said: “UV-C germicidal lamps are installed inside the HVAC system duct work. As the air passes the UV-C light, it kills more than 99% of the virus immediately. The air is recirculated to the HVAC system from the casino space, therefore cleaning the air in the casino.”

Since the installation there have been zero cases of COVID-19 stemming from casinos with the new system in place.

It’s also still grim in Atlantic City, New Jersey. According to a report from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, all nine casinos posted a record 170.4% drop for Q2 2020. This also marks the first time in history that the financials didn’t not include any brick-and-mortar revenue.

It looks like none of this will improve until the world has a vaccine fit for purpose.

As for the live tournament scene, two more cancellations have been announced in Asia. The Asian Poker Tour has written off the APT Philippines, and the WPT Korea is to be shelved.

It’s not all bad news though. The WPT Japan was a roaring success attracting a record 726 entries.

It now looks almost certain that we are going to have to wait until next year before organisers will be prepared to risk a major live festival.

Dan Bilzerian to Be the Face of FTR Poker in India

Instagram playboy Dan Bilzerian is to be the new face of FTR Poker in India. The American that everyone loves to hate is already the face of BlitzPoker who has recently taken over FTR on the Spartan Poker Network, the country’s fourth largest poker operator.

BlitzPoker CEO Chris Neville appears confident for the future, saying: “BlitzPoker has been growing at 30%-40% per month in the last quarter and has added 40,000 new customers. This type of growth is unheard of without seven to eight-figure marketing spends.”

While India is a socially conservative country that places religion as a priority for everyday life, 7 million of Bilzerian’s 30 million Instagram followers are from there.

He doesn’t seem the type of character that would be popular in such an environment, but there we are.

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