Major gambling companies in the United Kingdom held a meeting recently and one opinion emanating from the sit-down is that the online poker industry is not seen in a particularly positive light going into the new year.
According to an article in the Financial Mail, representatives from Betfair, William Hill, Ladbrokes and Bwin.party are concerned about the dominance of PokerStars in the industry and the snail's pace in which possible legalization in the U.S. has progressed.
“There are basically a few big companies and then everything else is just a very long tail," said an unnamed representative. "All the companies that have poker but aren’t one of the big ones are going to have to consolidate or be scooped up by the big players.”
PokerStars has roughly 60% of the online poker market. Add sister site Full Tilt to the equation and their market share is well over 70%. This makes it difficult for others to compete in the industry and many of the European companies are deriving only a small fraction of their income from online poker, such as the 6% poker-generated revenue at Betfair.
Indeed, the industry has changed considerably from the boom seen in 2003 when an online satellite allowed Chris Moneymaker to win the Main Event of the World Series of Poker. The result saw hordes of new players open new accounts online and permitted more experienced players to enjoy lucrative incomes on the virtual felt.
But the UIGEA in 2006 and Black Friday in 2011 have changed all that and have caused many experienced online players to fondly remember the good old days when logging on and playing was akin to printing money. Now, many are hoping that the U.S. will get back into the game, but the failure of the Reid-Kyl bill means that it will move forward on a state-by-state basis. Such a format is expected to be fraught with problems and looks as though it will take a long time before many Americans can play poker from their homes again.
“How many times have we heard that next year the U.S. market is going to open up," the Financial Mail quoted another European representative as saying. "It’s been a long time coming and we’re still not there yet.”
Many online gaming companies may shift their focus from poker to other online casino games such as slots or blackjack where the revenue stream may be greater than that of online poker and seen as being more likely to succeed.