Online Poker Booming in the United States amidst Coronavirus Outbreak

In the United States, the online poker industry is booming, as people are stuck at home due to the coronavirus outbreak. Since mid-March, states like New Jersey, Nevada and Pennsylvania have seen a solid increase in player traffic, both in cash games and tournaments.

Uptick in Player Traffic

It was just last month that casinos in the US began shutting down to try and slow the coronavirus spread. The virus is highly contagious and casinos are hot spots, as well as considered non-essential, so they are no longer in operation. This, of course, left gamblers with literally nowhere to turn. That is, except for the online poker sites.

In Pennsylvania, the only online poker network in operation is a big one, PokerStars. When online poker first launched in 2019 for the state, it did well, even outpacing New Jersey. But since the self-isolation aspect has come into play, the market is even larger.

Just recently, PokerStars began the inaugural Pennsylvania Spring Championship of Online Poker (PASCOOP). The series has been so successful that guarantees went thru the roof! After 32 events took place, the prize pool overall total jumped to over $1.05 million. This is much more than the $664,000 in guaranteed prize money originally up for grabs. Players are logging in at record numbers due to being stuck at home during the quarantine.

Analyst Insight

According to Professionalrakeback.com, insight has been provided as to just how online poker is thriving thanks to poker journalist Nick Jones. On March 22nd, Jones tweeted an image showing a poker traffic. The image showed a 7-day running average that displayed traffic starting before July 2015 coming to the end of February/beginning of March.

At the time, Jones was reporting that traffic figures would cross the 45,000 threshold for average concurrent players over the next few days. This would be a new high that had not been seen since 2015. Interestingly enough, since 2015, there has been an overall online poker decline. However, over the past few weeks, the traffic number has increased significantly from around 32,000 to over 40,000.

It is also interesting to note that the poker platforms in the US as well as internationally are seeing an uptick in players who are generally sports bettors. Sportsbooks are non-existent right now because there are not sports to wager on. Players who would normally have enjoyed March Madness last month were playing poker and continue to do so into April.

Offshore online poker traffic is picking as well in the United States. Networks like Chico and Pai Wang Luo have seen a sharp increase, some up as much as 400%. Sites like Ignition Poker are benefiting from players being at home rather than on the go.  

For now, we should only continue to see an increase in player traffic as people are advised to continue with social distancing. The federal government should be providing insight over the coming weeks as April turns to May. The Trump administration would like to see some businesses back in operation by May. However, that may not come to pass depending on how the virus is contained by that point.

While the world seems to be in a state of flux at the moment, at least fans of poker can log online to enjoy cash games or tournament options. It will be interesting to see if this uptick in poker interest and traffic continues all the way to the WSOP, which was rescheduled for later in 2020.

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