Coronavirus Lockdowns Lead to 27% Revenue Spike for PokerStars

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Coronavirus lockdowns have resulted in record revenue for PokerStars, as poker helped to “mitigate” a lack of sports betting activity on the site.

Revenue up
PokerStars has recorded revenue for the first quarter of 2020 thanks, in part, to coronavirus lockdowns. (Image: Economic Times)

News of the spike in online poker and casino activity was posted today in a press release from The Stars Group (TSG).

The 27% year-on-year upswing in Q1 is not only a quarterly record, but the latest sign business is booming online.

$735 Million Surge Mitigates Sports Betting Losses

It’s common knowledge that online poker has benefitted from the ongoing global lockdowns. With people forced to stay indoors, sites such as PokerStars have become a way for many to pass the time.

Rafi Ashkenazi, Chief Executive Officer of TSG, acknowledged this specifically in his Q1 assessment. In line with quarantine measures in March, quarterly revenue reached $735 million.

“The Stars Group saw increased customer activity across its online poker and casino product offerings largely beginning in March, with year-over-year International revenue growth of approximately 44% for the month,” reads the April 17 press release.

Like Itai Pazner of 888 Holdings, Ashkenazi warned that prolonged disruption could, ultimately, be damaging. Even with sporting events canceled for the foreseeable future, online poker and casino games are keeping TSG afloat.

Business on the Upswing at PokerStars

In tandem with group earnings reaching record levels, TSG’s US verticals are thriving. Online poker revenue in New Jersey topped $3.6 million in March. That’s a state record, helped along by the $1.16 million PokerStars raked.

Elsewhere in the US, activity for PokerStars Pennsylvania is up. What’s more, the company has just been approved for licenses in Colorado and West Virginia.

The flurry of positives come as TSG is preparing to merge with Flutter Entertainment. The multi-billion-dollar deal will make the new entity an industry giant. With a combined value of more than $12 billion, Flutter/TSG will be worth more the double its closest rivals, GVC Holdings and Bet365.

How well the two companies combine their assets will be something to watch in the coming months. However, what may prove more interesting is the landscape Flutter/TSG enters.

Coronavirus has given online poker and casino sites a major boost over the last two months. The question now is, how long the spike will last and will it alter the industry for good?

Coronavirus Could Alter Online Gaming Forever

With hindsight, a spike in activity during the lockdown period was expected. The poker industry as a whole was enjoying a purple patch before the crisis, and existing players were always going to ante up.

However, it’s the influx of new players and the prospect of long-term social distancing that could have the greatest impact. Operators that can retain new customers once the pandemic subsides will do well.

We may also see a cultural shift toward online entertainment. Live events will return, but they may do so under different conditions. Bars, restaurants, clubs and other venues may implement spacing restrictions. Add to this a fear of attending events with large crowds, and people may choose to stay indoors long after lockdown orders have been relaxed.

We know PokerStars and its peers are currently enjoying a boom, and based on how coronavirus could change the world, the current gains might be more than a flash in the pan.

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