Online poker operators have turned a negative into a positive during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the sun may be setting on the latest boom.
Recent statistics from the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) show that online poker activity revenue is gradually decreasing.
Comparing June 2020 to March 2020, revenue was down 3.2%. June’s £11,675,197 haul was also 41.8% lower than April’s total(£20,068,939).
Players Go Offline as COVID-19 Restrictions Ease
The drop in online poker revenue runs in line with the easing of lockdown restrictions in the UK. Just as activity surged following the implementation of quarantine measures on March 23, rake is falling as life returns to normal.
It’s no secret that online poker’s recent upswing has been a product of COVID-19 restrictions, not just in the UK, but globally. The latest statistics add further weight to this assumption. Moreover, they raise the question of whether the 2020 boom will have a positive long-term impact on the industry.
A deeper dive into the data suggests the baseline has risen. The number of active online poker players in June was 418,260. That’s less than the 626,304 Brits who anted up in April 2020. However, it’s significantly more than the 266,294 active players recorded in March 2019.
More bets were also placed in June 2020 than in March 2019. Therefore, even though the latest total is down compared to recent months, revenue is still 44.6% higher than it was in March 2019 (£8,070,102).
Other parts of the industry have followed a similar pattern. Online slots revenue in June 2020 is still higher than pre-COVID levels. The same goes for online casino games. Perhaps the most surprising stat of all is linked to sports betting.
The suspension of live sports caused betting revenue to fall 27.5% between March 2019 and April 2020. However, the return of soccer and, more recently, other sports, has seen activity surge. In June 2020, sports betting revenue topped £217,468,648, which is a 251% increase from April’s £61,938,466 total.
Online Poker May Emerge Healthier than Before
The true impact of COVID-19 will only reveal itself in 2021. When the UKGC provides year-on-year comparisons between the lockdown and the state of play in March 2021, operators will know if the baseline has risen.
Current data suggests online poker will emerge from the pandemic in a better position, or at least, no worse off than when it entered.
Partypoker, GGPoker, Grosvenor, and PokerStars have all piled on the value in recent months. Guarantees have been pushed to record levels and major festivals, including the WPT and WSOP, have transitioned to the digital arena.
No one believed the boom would last forever and the latest data proves that. As the Brits return to bars, shops, and as of August 15, casinos, online activity has dropped.
However, online poker activity remains higher than it was pre-COVID. Operators will claim that as a victory in the wake of an epoch-making pandemic.