12/24/09 – Retrospective analyses of the twelve months just passed are common as a year draws to a close, and the  pick of the many offerings so far published goes to Poker News Daily, which cannily chose to interview Dan Stewart, manager of the independent online poker information and stats site PokerScout. Pokerstars
 
In an interesting interview Stewart makes the point that the prophets of doom predicting that everything from a bad economic climate to market saturation would cause the industry to falter and regress have been resoundingly proved wrong in 2009…and he produced a few stats to back his opinion.
 
Stewart told Poker News Daily that the overall market has grown by an impressive 35 percent, with Full Tilt Poker enjoying a good year, doubling in size and increasing market share from 15 percent to 23 percent in its pursuit of the biggest site in the world, Pokerstars. Much of the growth occurred in the second half of the year, it appears.
 
Full Tilt closed the gap during the year and is now 65 percent the size of its gigantic rival, with both substantially ahead of Playtech's third placed iPoker network. The dominance and growth of these super-sites has resulted in smaller companies – especially those lower than the top 12 sites on the leader board – growing slower than the market itself.
 
A possibly serious contender, depending on the extent to which their respective player databases overlap, could be the much speculated upon possible merger of Bwin and Party Gaming.
 
Stewart confirms that the sites that have the most players tend to attract more players because they offer continuous poker action around the world, and he estimates that Pokerstars and Full Tilt between them enjoy a 60 percent share of the available market. But there is still enough to go round, he observes, commenting that there are at least 15 other networks with enough players to remain healthy and competitive, even in terms of non-US action.
 
Going by Pokerscout's usually accurate and up-to-date statistics, the year's biggest loser has been Sweden's state-owned Svenska Spel, which is down by 9 percent – probably as a result of owner-restraints on its marketing efforts.
 
Pokerscout looks to be even more informative in 2010; Stewart revealed that there some valuable additions planned for the site next year that include an expanded traffic report and more information on rakeback deals.
 
Readers can find the full interview here: http://www.pokernewsdaily.com/2009-online-poker-industry-trends-7153/