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IS ONLINE POKER RUNNING OUT OF STEAM?
Saturday October 8, 2011 : Over (recent) time the numbers are declining
In years past, this was the seasonal time when online poker traffic traditionally started picking up - by anything from 3 to 10 percent, according to the industry's independent monitor Pokerscout.
But not this year, where instead Pokerscout has recorded a 7 percent overall decline, possibly due to the drastic enforcement actions against major online poker sites in the United States, which have seriously impacted companies servicing the important US market.
However, Pokerscout points out that there may be two other more long term causes:
"First, markets outside the US are saturated. Pretty much everyone who wants to play online poker is already signed up, and new players coming in are only replacing (or failing to keep up with) players who are leaving," the expert site management opines.
"Second, poker as a fad has mostly run its course. The game simply doesn't have the cool factor, the grip on young male minds especially, that it used to. The fascination with this wonderful game has lasted a decade or more, and poker will undoubtedly retain a large number of followers, but its popularity with the general public has likely peaked and is beginning to decline."
To which one might add that the continuing global economic recession would not have helped either.
It is perhaps ironic that just when it appears that serious political momentum for the opening up of the US poker market is building, the activities of law enforcement in that same market have contributed to the present damping down of the business.
A counter-argument might be that the action in live tournament poker, and even in online tourneys and high stakes cash games on the internet, is still making headlines and fortunes for the successful.
There's no denying that times are tough in the world of internet poker, but is the pastime really down and out?
At least one newcomer to the industry does not appear to think so; Groupe Bernard Tapie has a solid reputation for turning troubled businesses around, and it is currently negotiating to buy up Full Tilt Poker. Not only that, it is involved in the new International Stadium Poker Tournament venture with plans for multi-million dollar events around the world.
Meanwhile, judging by this week's Pokerscout numbers, Party Poker.com has taken over the number two industry spot from the still-moribund Full Tilt, edging out arch-rival iPoker. And Pokerstars remains way ahead of the rest of the pack despite its clash with US officialdom.
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