Back in March, casinos and gaming facilities across the United States shut down as the Covid-19 pandemic became a real threat. As these businesses closed, players who normally frequent poker rooms and casinos began to log online to play their favorite games. Major land-based events like the WSOP were postponed or cancelled, which led to events taking place online. Now that the virus remains an issue, will the online poker industry continue to thrive? Will it become the go-to option rather than land-based poker?
A Look Back
As casinos and other non-essential businesses began to close in March, there was uncertainty as to when gambling would be live again. Major events like the World Series of Poker was supposed to start in May but was postponed by April due to the pandemic.
Poker has been a game that was greatly affected by the pandemic due to its social nature. Players are seated at the felt in close proximity to each other. They are also handling chips and cards with everyone at the table. Because the virus can be easily spread, it was essentially impossible to offer such large events like the WSOP due to the potential for a large outbreak of cases.
As many events began to be canceled or postponed, operators and online poker rooms got to work. Organizers started coming together to create plans to offer options online. For the WSOP, they offered gold bracelet events at WSOP.com for players in Nevada and New Jersey. They also hooked up with GGPoker and provided bracelet events for players internationally.
A ton of bracelet events were provided by the two online poker platforms, far more than any ever provided online. it was the best way for the WSOP to provide summer action while the land-based series was not able to take place.
The WSOP was supposed to be rescheduled in live format for a later date, but organizers have yet to provide any information on when that might be.
Will the Momentum Continue?
Over the past few months, major operators like PokerStars, partypoker, 888poker, GGPoker and more have seen an influx in player traffic. As people have nothing to do due to the closure of nonessential businesses or fear of catching the virus, they are logging on to online poker sites.
All of the major providers have offered large series and festivals to provide players with something to enjoy over the past few months. In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, so much action has been on the table that monthly poker revenue totals have shot up to record numbers.
Starting in June and July, most of the online casinos began to reopen, but poker was still not an option. It would take a few weeks for poker rooms to even open and then they were limited to just cash games due to fear of Covid spread.
So, will this momentum continue? As Covid-19 positive case numbers are increasing in the US, we are trending towards another possible shutdown, at least for casinos. This could be a plus for online poker sites as they will be able to keep offering services to players when they cannot visit an online casino site. It will be interesting to see how the poker sites fare as the year comes to an end, based on Covid-19 cases as well as poker interest in general.