WHAT’S NEXT FOR ONLINE POKER?


With some analysts claiming the demand for online poker has peaked, where do you see new growth coming from?


“Regulated markets do have the potential to grow. The freedom to advertise once a regulated market opens will, over time, lead to greater consumer awareness and participation. But this growth takes time to come through, probably in the medium-term range of three to five years”


Jim Ryan, Co-CEO, bwin.party
We are taking a longer-term approach, a business decision that reflects the structural changes taking place in the poker market. From the dominance of PokerStars in the ‘.com’ and ‘.national’ markets in Europe through to the potential rewards that would arise from the opening of the US market, there is no doubt that the online poker game is changing.

Poker is still an important part of our business and we have great brands - in fact world leading brands in PartyPoker and World Poker Tour. However, a reality check about the changing regulatory landscape and the market influence exerted by PokerStars tells us that it will be challenging for us to grow our poker business this year.

Regulated markets do have the potential to grow. The freedom to advertise once a regulated market opens will, over time, lead to greater consumer awareness and participation. But this growth takes time to come through, probably in the medium- term range of three to five years.

A few thousand miles further West and we’re looking at something very different - the opening of the US market. Various state and federal bills are working their way through the legislative process, which gives rise to our view and many others in the industry that it’s a matter of‘when’ not ‘if the US will open its market to online poker.

Let’s put the US prospect into financial context. Various estimates put the size of the US online poker market at around $1.6 billion before ‘Black Friday’. Some will say that the US was more mature than many other markets around the world; however, the introduction of a regulatory regime that enables the efficient movement of money in and out and, again, freedom to advertise, will fuel growth.

We’ve positioned ourselves for the opening of the U S through our agreements with MGM and Boyd and the removal of PokerStars and Full Tilt provided a useful fillip for our PartyPoker and WPT brands.
 
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