According to a study released this week by MECN, online poker is
one of the hottest topics in the gambling industry. The study includes
the results of a survey MECN conducted among more than 100 industry
experts who offered their unique insights and assessments.
The analysts say that gambling reinvents itself constantly, and online poker is the product that seems to be the current guarantor of future growth rates. The success story of online poker began some years ago, and as Martin Oelbermann, co-author of the study, explains "Online poker is the perfect symbiosis of two mega trends in gambling: online gambling and poker." What began as triumphant advance in the USA is now leading to a global poker wave on the Internet with tremendous potential.
- The amount gambled on poker websites around the world in 2005 is estimated to be more than USD 60 billion.
- More than 60 percent of the industry experts surveyed believe that online poker will be the dominant offer in online gambling in 2-3 years.
- 75 percent of the industry experts surveyed believe that the global annual rake/commission in the 2-3 years will be more than USD 4 billion.
Another important reason for the rapid growth of online poker is the increasing number of successful TV shows featuring poker, and as Martin Oelbermann explains, "When poker is on the air, it's the online poker sites that profit instantaneously." There are many examples of successful poker TV coverage, among them the World Series of Poker on ESPN, Celebrity Poker on Bravo, and the European Poker Tour on Eurosport.
Online poker has also earned the respect of the global business and financial community. Betting heavyweight Sportingbet just recently bought poker site Paradise Poker for about USD 300 million.
"Not a bad price for a site launched in 1999, but more than 53 percent of the experts surveyed believe this price to be appropriate – investors just seem to love the online poker story," adds Martin Oelbermann. A statement that seems to be confirmed by whispers that PartyGaming/iGlobalMedia (PartyPoker) is planning an IPO with an estimated evaluation between USD 4 billion and 8 USD billion.
But the MECN study also points out that the online poker market will become a tougher market in the future. With decreasing revenues per active player and growing competition, the poker operators have to find successful strategies for the future. The industry insiders surveyed recommend as the most important strategies for the future the creation of poker networks, the entry into the market by more betting brands such as Ladbrokes, and the consolidation of poker sites.
When it comes to geographical expansion, Europe seems to be the place to go; 52 percent of the experts believe that Europe offers the greatest future potential for online poker. Market leader PartyPoker, for example, is planning to launch its presence on television throughout Europe very soon and already operates its site in one other language besides English, namely, German.