Will We See Another Poker Boom in 2018?

3 years ago
Will poker see more growth? Poker boom in 2018?
20:52
09 Sep

Predicting the future can be a risky business! Things look to be heading a certain way, you envisage a scenario where it all works out swimmingly and then… BOOM! Or perhaps BUST! Something happens to change the course of events, your visions of a wonderful future disintegrate, and pretty soon all you’re left with is egg on your face!

This could well be the case with this article, but I think it still deserves its ‘time in the sun’. A positively positive view of what could become the 2nd coming of poker; a boom to rival that of 2003!


Reasons to be positive…

Though there are many who would disagree with my rose-tinted approach to poker’s future, there are a huge number of positives on poker’s doorstep, as well as many more shuffling up the driveway:

If we look to federal regulation ofpoker in the USA, easier access to the Asian market with regard to payments and regulation, a merging of certain European markets, the massive increase in mobile and tablet gaming coupled with a world-wide economic upturn and the tapping of hitherto undisturbed millions of potential poker-players, it doesn’t seem too far-fetched to suppose that a convergence of these factors could result in a new boom.


But how likely are these things to become reality?

Regulation is the f-bomb of the poker world and nowhere more so than in the US. The ‘Black Friday’ of April 15 2011 resulted in millions of players disappearing from the online poker world.

So far, of course, very few have re-appeared – and the money lost by many during that bleak initial period may keep them away even if the laws change in favour of online poker – but with inroads being made on a state-by-state basis, it is not inconceivable that the frankly ridiculous statutes passed in 2011 could be reversed or superseded.

This year’s state regulation battles will have an impact far beyond the immediate. Next year, 2016, is an election year and it is doubtful any major shifts will occur – what is important is the attitude of those who gain power - but even in the worst-case scenario, anti-gaming politicians will struggle to reverse state legislature already firmly in place.

As Steve Ruddock of PokerUpdate put it:

“If more states pass online gambling expansion bills in 2015, we leave less up to chance and make the road much tougher for the opposition to repeal online gambling laws and/or block further expansion”.

It is important to remember that ‘online poker’ is not illegal in the US (a common misconception among the uninitiated) but rather it is the financial transactions involved which are the problem. What is needed to bring poker-friendly legislation into place is a critical mass and strong lobbying. This may still be a year or 2 away, but it is gaining momentum.


Asian markets are an equally messy affair at the moment, but regulation is not the only problem.

According to GamblingOnlineMagazine,

“One of the problems facing the casinos of the West in entering the Asian market, is their insistent use of Western payment mechanisms.

Asian gambling revolves around a cash culture, and until cash can be easily deposited into the online casino and made readily available to winners, the Asian market cannot be fully excavated”.

Solutions? They’re already here and making inroads. EcoCard, which lets gamblers convertcash into virtual moneyat a traditional bank. No bank account required and as anonymous as it gets, something similar to EcoCard, Pay Spark and Pay 2 are the way forward for the Asian market. As GamblingOnline states:

“ISP bans aside, the casino that fully adapts to Asian culture will be the real winner in the online casino game”.


Merging markets

Last year, a poker-online.com article came to the conclusion that:

The poker community in Europe believe that if France, Italy and Spain collaborate and create a pan-European competitive poker market, not only will it increase the player pool and prize money but it will bring in a new surge of customers and increase the visibility of online poker in Europe”.

Poker players, as above, take a vastly different view from the regulatory bodies, but it’s the players who are at the heart of the issue; who talk to their non-playing friends about the game: who understand what attracted them to the game and what is preventing others they know from playing.

“When I look around myself, I still see a great enthusiasm about the game. I believe there is still a good margin to innovate and create something new,”

Was Julien ‘JunkeyBoy Ferey’s view. As a poker coach and rising star of the French online scene, it might be a good idea to pay attention to his views.

Such an optimistic scheme may be difficult to realize, of course. The regulatory bodies appear to see great merit in the pan-European plan, others, notably certain politicians, are against it. Still, it is certainly on the table for discussion and would help to kick-start a new enthusiasm for the game in large chunks of Europe.


Mobile and tablet gaming

A headline last year read 'Smartphone and tablet gaming sales to hit $25bn next year,' according to research specialist Newzoo. Even 5 years ago, much of the world still lacked internetaccess. Although internet may have been available, a prohibiting factor for many was they were unable to afford a device, but this simply isn’t as true anymore and will continue to become less of a factor.

Naturally, poker can only benefit from this; if you play poker, and don’t know someone who already plays on their mobile or tablet, you’re in a tiny minority. Increased sales of phones and mobiles plus increased marketing of poker to the people who buy them multiplied by areas which couldn’t previously enjoy such things all adds up.


Life-cycles

Everything goes in cycles. Decades of boom and bust, ups-and-downs, peaks and troughs. There is no reason to believe that poker is any different.

Knee-jerk conservative legislation changes; markets continue to open given the right conditions, or re-open when the chance arises; others adapt naturally to embrace the positives and reject the negatives based on increased knowledge of what works and what doesn’t; austerity is replaced by prosperityand both industryand publicreact to these swings; old technologyis replaced by new technology and finds its way to the deepest corners of the world-eventually!


Boom!

It is not beyond anyone’s ability to predict the future to see that a boom can occur when a few of these factors converge. It may take a while, and it may not quite be the boom of 2003, but right now online poker conditions are very unfavourable and actually make it difficult for most of the world's population to do something that is simple:

Play poker!


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Andrew from Edinburgh, Scotland, is a professional journalist, international-titled chess master, and avid poker player.Read more

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