With the physical gambling industry currently in a sorry state due to the coronavirus pandemic, one of the sectors most affected has been the sports betting industry. Revenues have dropped dramatically due to the blockage of sporting events and recovery threatens to be slow.
But while the traditional sector is stagnating without operations, companies are turning to their online versions to mitigate these negative impacts. At the forefront of that charge is online poker, led by different online poker sites with real money that facilitate access to this game that has survived multiple changes within the industry and is now returning to the world stage.
Traditionally, sports betting and poker industries have shared some similarities. That connection has migrated to the digital sector, and when sports stop, many gamblers turn to poker.
Poker has always been one of the main options for players, and now that they cannot access land-based casinos, they are turning to reputable online casinos; this new boom has attracted a large number of new, unexpected players, a mature audience that has never played online before.
Audiences will be sustainable
One of the biggest challenges will be to maintain interest once the physical facilities return to their usual schedules. Industry experts say that once live sports and gambling return, there will be a drop in interest; however, they stress that this will not be a return to basics, because some of the new audiences will be maintained and sustainable.
Some of the players who used to play offline and are now coming online will not return to the casinos for various reasons:
-They will have become accustomed to virtual entertainment.
-They will be afraid and anxious to be in crowded public places
-For simple convenience.
Many real money online poker sites have reported 50-300% growth in player activity in the first six weeks after the physical casinos closed due to COVID-19. While the numbers may seem incredible, they are real because they include not only offline players, but also sports betting fans looking for new challenges, and people who have never gambled online, but are looking for a source of fun and entertainment that can also be potentially lucrative.
The greatest virtue of poker has been its adaptability over time. Technological evolution and innovative development have created new versions of the game, so the interest in poker has never decreased. The key is to continue innovating to attract new and young generations.
Experts believe that we should start by implementing the best technological and innovative practices in the development of mobile games; as well as encouraging the creation of new types of poker games, paying special attention to the user experience in order to improve it and increase player loyalty.
Usually, the best online poker sites with real money launch updates of their platform at least twice a month. This is in order to constantly improve their offer.
Will the online poker boom continue after the pandemic passes?
According to data from the independent industry monitor GameIntel, which tracks average daily cash-game traffic in dozens of the largest online poker rooms worldwide, markets around the world have almost returned to the pre-coronavirus outbreak and ban levels.
The global market for online operators continues to rise overall by about 20% in the last half-year; although many operators have seen traffic drop back to almost pre-pandemic levels. This may be due to the fact that in many latitudes containment measures have been relaxed.
Consumer Study and Coronavirus Recovery
The Innovation Group (TIG) published its latest study, “Consumer Study and Coronavirus Recovery in Casino and Gaming”, which provides a standard analysis of casino gambling behavior.
TIG has been tracking COVID-19 and its impact on the gaming industry since the pandemic began. In its ongoing work to predict recovery patterns, it has conducted periodic consumer research to understand changing perceptions and behaviors toward casino venues, their services, and new technologies such as contactless payment. In May, before the reopening of the casinos, TIG conducted a study to find out what the players thought; the results of that study were compared with those of August to evaluate the players’ perception since the reopening.
Among its most important findings, the study shows that players exaggerated their intention to return, but higher level players are emerging. Only 17% of regular visitors have returned to the casinos since the reopening; compared to 40% who said they would return in May. In addition, the development of the vaccine is very important in the decision of the players not to return, 35% of the visitors said they would not return to the casinos until there is a vaccine or a reliable treatment.
The report also shows that gamblers hope to reduce the budget dedicated to gambling, and that interest in using the services is much lower than it was before COVID-19. Only 54% of those who returned to the casinos used extra services (hotel, pool, spa, restaurant, etc.) on their last visit, as opposed to 88% who reported using them on a typical visit in 2019.
In addition, security measures were generally in line with expectations. Eighty-nine percent of those who returned to the casinos believe that the establishments implemented “an appropriate level of security measures” or “too many security measures,” while only 11% believe that not enough was done.
TIG also found regional variations in player behavior prior to the study. Trips decreased by as much as 46%, 47%, and 38% in the Midwest, Northwest, and West, respectively. The drop in trips in the South, on the other hand, was only 31%, and players in this region were also more relaxed about security measures.
The report showed that players want non-contact options, with 86% of respondents expressing concern about contracting coronavirus from using casino cash. Seventy-two percent of all respondents indicated that it was “very possible” or “possible” that they would use contactless payment methods if they had them, and 66% said it was “very possible” or “possible” that they would visit a casino that offered this modality. Those who showed the most interest in contactless payment methods were the most assiduous or high spending capacity players.