It is finally the season of poker once again as the World Series of Poker opens two weeks from now. But as the pro poker players prepare to beat the others and have a great time in Las Vegas, there seems to be a continuous market downtrend—one that should raise the alarm for operators in the land-based industry and online poker sector.
Back in 2014, real-money online poker rooms suffered in terms of player traffic, liquidity, and active accounts. It even aggravated the worsening situation the online poker market in France was in back then.
Two years after, reports still point to a declining interest in the said game, whether in brick-and-mortar casinos or online poker rooms. While the shift toward mobile could have played a factor in the sector’s weakening performance as compared to before, analysts suggest that there seems to be an evolution taking place in the online poker sector.
Should the online poker sector welcome new mediums?
Online poker changed the way poker was being played years ago. This development made possible playing poker against fellow enthusiasts from different countries through the internet. This, of course, was hindered by strict regulations like the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 that pronounced online poker as illegal in the US, except in three states as of today.
Over time, the rise of the mobile platform as evidenced by mobile apps and mobile-optimized websites clearly hint the changing trends in various factors like technology, gaming, and market demand.
A significant share of the poker sector is geared toward playing poker through mobile apps and social networking sites like Facebook. More interesting is the fact that this trend reflects the sole purpose of getting entertained, skipping the part where real money is put at stake.
The mobile apps developed by Zynga, specifically Texas Holdem and Classic TX Holdem coupled with other apps like the World Series of Poker from Playtika, do not support real-money gaming, but they still receive a growing support from certain demographics.
Similarly, other channels like Sky Poker TV and Twitch are becoming increasingly popular among the online poker community. These new mediums, however, through which poker enthusiasts can divert their attention from placing real bets, are not necessarily the culprit behind the declining market for poker.
Integrating new features may serve as catalyst
The online poker sector is aware of the said trend, and this explains the efforts of some operators to add new features and services to stimulate both active and inactive online poker players.
One of these additions could be the integration of Bitcoin. As much as the innovation the online poker rooms provided the iGaming industry with, the players cannot help noticing how vastly improved the payment system would be with Bitcoin on board.
To date, Americas Cardroom has already enabled players even from the US to make Bitcoin deposits and withdrawals. Not many online poker rooms are joining this revolution, even despite the rumor last year that PokerStars would accept Bitcoin. The merger of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, on the other hand, is expected to give the market a push.
But with the clear evolution the online poker sector is experiencing right now, it would be best to explore all the options and possibilities to catch up and meet the current demands on point.