Earlier in the year, online poker surged, as governments around the world forced businesses, including casinos, to shut down due to COVID-19. That meant poker tables inside brick-and-mortar casinos were unavailable to players for months. That resulted in a surge in poker played online, including tournaments, as a result of the restrictions.
Now, it looks like a new COVID-19 lockdown is looming; could that mean another surge in online poker in the United States, as well as other countries? This possibility follows on the fact that the fourth quarter of this year saw an increase in activity in the online poker community.
European countries, including France, Spain, and Portugal, are already seeing a surge, as the governments in those countries imposed strict stay-at-home orders and curfews. In fact, data shows that the poker markets in each of those countries grew by 30%. Another lockdown in the US likely would create a similar spike in traffic. As the restrictions take effect in Europe, at least 15,600 people are already playing for cash in online poker games.
Online Poker and Casino Games Benefited from the COVID-19 Restrictions
As this “unprecedented” year drags on, the most popular online poker platforms that many thought would dominate the online poker market only saw a small increase. The highest level of increase by an established poker website was a 30% jump by PartyPoker. However, PokerStars only had an 8% increase while rival 888poker only saw a 2% increase.
Newer poker websites, such as GGPoker, were the real beneficiaries. GGPoker recorded an incredible 208% increase in play, the highest increase recorded for a poker website. However, that increase is primarily due to the site hosting the World Series of Poker, which was held online for the first time, due to the global COVID-19 restrictions. iPoker also did well, with a 62% surge in growth.
2021 is Looking Bright for US Online Gambling Market
With government response to what has been termed a health crisis showing no signs of abating, all forms of online gambling could see a surge in growth.
While there has been a small drop in online poker activity in November, it’s predicted that the online poker market in the US will experience robust growth well into the New Year.
The state of Pennsylvania is proving to be an online gambling jurisdiction that really loves poker; the growth of online poker revenue for the state has been strong. A further boost due to rolling lockdowns in the coming year could see PartyPoker displace PokerStars as the leading online poker website in the Keystone State. In fact, with only one poker website currently operating in the state, Pennsylvania’s revenue from the game is nearly three times that of neighboring New Jersey.
Other states, such as Michigan will likely go live with online poker this next year. Obviously, more states entering the legal online poker market will also influence the possibility of a market boom. When you consider all of these factors, including the likelihood of rolling lockdowns into the foreseeable future, the chances of another boom for the poker websites are good.
Without a doubt, online poker, as well as online casino games, are here to stay. The continuing restrictions on land-based casinos in response to the virus, only drives gamblers online. Moreover, as people become accustomed to the “new normal”, many won’t be returning to Atlantic City or Las Vegas anytime soon. Rather, they will stay at home, and gamble online.
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