Prior to 2020, online poker has always sort of taken a back seat to it’s in-person counterpart, especially when it comes to news coverage and reporting. However, with Covid hitting the live casino and gambling world hard, online poker has seen a huge boom.
In March and April, “how to play poker” saw a 200% rise in google searches. And the online poker industry as a whole is predicted to grow by 13.2% from $58.9 billion in 2019 to $66.7 billion in 2020.
With companies like Pokerstars running prestigious online competitions such as the Winter Series of Online Poker, or WCOOP as it’s more often known, more players than ever have found themselves taking part. What’s more, because of the lack of in-person competitions, broadcasters have finally been able to cover online poker events in huge amounts of detail.
And it isn’t just poker that’s seeing an online boom, online casinos as a whole are seeing tremendous growth, with no registration casinos proving incredibly popular.
Why Is Online Poker Growing
1) People Have More Time to Spare
With more time spare due to furlough and work restrictions, people on average have more free time available throughout the day. This means that a lot of new recreational players have had the time to learn.
2) Social elements
Lockdown rules can leave people feeling isolated. Online poker has various built-in social chat features, so for many people it’s a fun way to socialize with friends and rivals.
3) Pro’s Returning
A lot of professional players that would usually focus on super high stakes in-person games have made their return to the online stage. Since these players often have significant fan-bases and followings, it’s led to a lot more people seeing online poker as a viable option for competitive play.
4) Big Prizes for Small Buy-Ins
Thanks to the ‘satellite system,’ players can enter low level tournaments for less than $0.50 and win tickets into bigger and bigger tournaments. With enough luck and skill there are opportunities to win tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars for very little upfront betting.
Will Online Poker Continue to Grow?
It’s hard to say whether online poker will continue to see this rapid growth once sports betting and casino betting returns to its normal style of operations. Fans often make sports bets to support the teams they love, and to make watching games more exciting, so given the choice a lot of sports gamblers may simply make the switch back to team sports betting.
There’s also the fact that people will eventually have less free time on their hands as the world returns to regular employment practices. Couple this with a lot of the pros returning to in-person games and the online poker boom might be set to come to an end next year.
On the other hand, online poker sites are savvy operators, and if they can come up with enough incentives to keep the attention and loyalty of their new audience, then there’s huge potential for growth of the sport online. Incentives could include loyalty bonuses, free spins of casino games, deposit bonuses, and free tickets into medium and large size tournaments.
Limitations to Growth (Which May Be a Good Thing For Some People)
Poker, and all forms of online gambling, can be a lot of fun, but they can also be pretty addictive. Countries including the USA and the UK have been increasingly worried about people losing money they can’t afford during the covid lockdown period. Because of this the UK, for example, has placed strict guidelines and limitations on all forms of TV and radio advertising relating to gambling.
Remember the golden rule folks, don’t bet what you can’t afford to lose!