CEO Hails Return to Glory Days as Unibet Poker Records Record Growth

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Unibet Poker achieved record revenue during the second quarter of 2020 due to COVID-19 lockdowns. Poker earnings in Q2 were just shy of £10 million/$12.7 million and, as CEO Henrik Tjärnström noted, multiple regions achieved new monthly highs in April.

Kindred Group Henrik Tjärnström
CEO of the Kindred Group, Henrik Tjärnström, believes that online poker is back to its best due to COVID-19 lockdowns. (Image: Flickr/Unibet)

The uptick in revenue gave Unibet’s parent company, the Kindred Group, overall earnings of £235 million/$299 million for the quarter. That’s a 4% year-on-year increase and enough to take the company’s H1 revenue to £484 million/$616 million.

Tjärnström described the results as a testament to Kindred’s resilience and its focus on sustainable business practices in regulated markets.

Unibet Poker Proves Game Remains Popular

Online poker’s impressive performance is more than just another positive for Unibet. The platform has shown that it can operate effectively as an independent since breaking away from iPoker in 2013.

The decision to focus on casual players and to put the “fun” back into poker has paid dividends. Revenue has improved over the years and, as other independents such as TonyBet Poker have slipped away, Unibet has held strong.

The latest performance is also a demonstration of poker’s enduring popularity and its future potential. Tjärnström hosted a webcast last Friday to discuss the company’s results, and said poker is almost back to its “glory days.”

That’s certainly been the case since March. COVID-19 lockdowns have caused online poker revenue to increase as sports betting revenue took a dive. This dynamic has been most evident in the US where Kindred has a budding network of betting interests.

“Our US business continues to develop very strongly, despite the loss of offline revenues and the disruption to sports. Gross winnings revenue amounted to £6 million for the second quarter, an increase of 131% from the first quarter,” reads the revenue report.

In less than a year, Kindred’s US betting interests now account for more than 2.5% of the group’s gross winnings revenue. As it’s been in Europe, online poker contributed to this growth and plugged the gap left by a recent lack of sports betting activity.

Future is Bright Despite COVID-19

This bodes well for the industry’s future. Although sports betting will almost certainly return to its position as the biggest earner for the Kindred Group, poker has shown it’s a valuable asset. That’s significant given the recent trend that’s spread across the industry.

Poker has been pushed into the shadows over the last decade in favor of sports betting and casino gaming by operators such as PokerStars.

Where the industry leader goes, others often follow. That’s led to a decrease in poker innovations in favor of investment in competing verticals.

However, COVID-19 has flipped the script and reminded operators that online poker is still popular. Tjärnström’s claim that poker is returning to its glory days is a result of its recent resurgence, not just at Unibet, but across the industry as a whole.

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