POKERSTARS POKER ECOSYSTEM MOVES TAKING EFFECT
Six months on there has been an improvement in overall revenues.
Amaya executives conducting a press call in the wake of the companys latest set of Q2-2016 results hailed the increasingly obvious success of its VIP program cuts and rake changes six months ago.
Whilst the changes triggered hostility and complaints from some sections of the PokerStars player base, they have resulted in a rise in overall revenue and an improved ecosystem, rebuffing the predictions of some of the more pessimistic critics and reactions that included attempted boycotts.
Cash game traffic may have declined in the short term as a result of the amendments, but a stronger recreation-player centred environment is emerging, it appears…. and the company is taking a long view in its strategy.
Online poker information publication US Poker reports that during the press call the now permanent Amaya CEO Rafi Ashkenazi revealed that of the groups 2.4 million unique users, 2.3 million played at the PokerStars tables during Q2 2016 (a slight year-over-year increase) and that the number of active players has increased to 2.35 million (Q2-2015: 2.28 million), with 1.9 million registrations during the second quarter of this year.
Breaking out online poker numbers, Q2 revenue was $215.6 million (Q2-2015: $216.1 million), whilst total casino, sports and poker revenue combined rose 10 percent year-on-year to $285.9 million (Q2-2015: $259.5 million). That improvement rose to 14 percent on a constant currency basis, with the poker component up 5 percent.
And, Ashkenazi claimed, PokerStars global market share remained dominant at 71 percent.
Giving players more diversity of choice by offering gaming other than poker continues to be part of the companys strategy, with a permanent adaptation of the Card Hunt bingo-style game is planned for release in this third quarter of the year.
Given the increasing pressure for US legalization and the widespread regulatory moves elsewhere, it is hardly surprising that Amaya is spending heavily in lobbying activity, with US lobbying investment alone tripling y-o-y at $3.47 million during Q2-2016. To put that into perspective, its not far short of the lobbying spend of $3.59 million in the first six months of last year.
Critics of the PokerStars changes may be frustrated by Ashkenazi’s claim that there has been no negative impact from high-revenue players, and that in the new environment bankrolls from recreational and casual players are lasting longer.