The planet's biggest online poker operation, Pokerstars.com, took the unusual step this week of playing down its US market share, rather than the more usual claims of how big this important marketing statistic is.
In a company statement, PokerStars announced:
"In recent weeks various commentaries have provided inaccurate estimates about the market share of PokerStars U.S. customers. The figures state that PokerStars U.S. market share is significantly higher than the actual amount, and we wish to correct these estimates.
"While PokerStars continues to serve customers in the U.S. based on the legal advice we have receieved, in terms of both player liquidity and revenue, the US market represents substantially less than 50 percent of our business."
Industry observers interpreted the announcement as an indication that PokerStars wants to be seen to have significant business and player liquidity outside the US, should events in that region change the dynamics of the market.
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For example, legalising the US market could see major players such as Party Poker competing on a more even field following its settlement with US authorities and recently successful bid for WPT. Then there's the possibility of major US companies entering the sector if it is liberalised.
Taking a more pessimistic view, if anti-online gambling measures are more successful, PokerStars may want it to be known that it does not have all its eggs in one basket and has considerable player liquidity elsewhere.
The independent industry monitor Poker Scout reports that PokerStars and its arch-rival Full Tilt Poker have 58 percent of the world's online poker action, and for the year 2009 to date it records that Full Tilt Poker market growth is up 96 percent on last year, whilst PokerStars has shown slower growth of 55 percent.
There is little doubt that PokerStars remains the biggest of the online poker sites, with over 25 million members worldwide. The enterprise holds a number of Internet records that includes being the first to simultaneously host 100 000 cash game players; and it claims to have dealt 31 billion hands and offered more than 180 million online tournaments. Its latest achievement, accepted by the Guinness Book of Records is a proven capability to simultaneously host 200 000 players.
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