In an age when technology is advancing at rapid speeds, it may seem that trends in an industry such as online poker, which relies heavily on technology, would develop quickly and be short-lived. In fact, the tendencies of some of the biggest online poker operators in the world have shown that the companies exhibit a measured and calculated approach.
Instead of a landscape defined by diverse initiatives executed by nimble actors, online poker is more of a copycat industry that relies heavily on demonstrated successes and small iterative change. These traits tend to produce distinct trends in the industry that can span years.
Looking back at the year that passed, the industry as a whole exhibited several characteristics that were either widely adopted or successful enough for us to expect these trends to continue in 2019 and perhaps beyond.
The State of the Online Poker Industry Spring 2019, a report by Poker Industry PRO detailing and analyzing a wide array of aspects of the online poker industry over the past year, identifies several of the traits that are expected to have a significant impact on the immediate future of online poker.
The following passages are excerpts from the coming report which will be available to purchase in April and will also be made available to subscribers of Poker Industry PRO.
- Trends expected to drive the industry in 2019
- Operator financial data and analysis
- Regulated market developments and outlook
- Significant events to follow in the coming year
- Knowledge and expertise backed by best-in-class Data platform
- Special features and interviews with the some of the industry’s most important decision-makers
Marquee Online Tournament Series Growth
The heavy investment into flagship tournament series and the concomitant consumer interest has been highlighted in the previous two State of the Online Poker Industry reports. The position of the high-profile series as a key growth driver and marketing tool that helps fuel growing player activity, remained just as strong (if not stronger) in H2 2018, and the trend appears to be continuing into 2019.
The various record-breaking festivals and subsequent successes are too numerous to list. In August, during the high-season for online poker festivals, the top eight dot-com and dot-eu operators announced schedules that guaranteed a combined $170 million in prize money, the largest in online poker history. Almost all boasted of bigger schedules than in prior years. For example, WCOOP alone guaranteed $70 million and became PokerStars’ largest ever festival. Despite the high-level of ambition attributed to those guarantees, over $215 million was paid out in prize money.
Stagnation of Traditional Poker Promotions
Among top-tier online poker operators today, the main strands for customer acquisition and reengagement are online poker tournaments, ambassadors and streamers, live tours, rewards programs and new products; the standard online poker promotion has noticeably fallen out of popularity.
By the summer of 2018, [most traditional online poker promotions had] disappeared completely. The few promotions that have run since were often targeted at specific markets or in rare instances were small additional bonuses to support an MTT series.
Run It Once Poker launched with its most innovative rewards concept to date: Splash the Pot. The new rewards distribution mechanism is part of the loyalty program that returns over 50% of the rake collected back to the players in the form of random “splashes” of money added to pots. The frequency and amount are related to the total rake collected in the previous hands. The idea was warmly welcomed by players and has already been copied by one competitor.