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Is Rough Economy Hurting Poker? Online and Brick and Mortar Evidence

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Oct/14/2008
Economy

Gambling911.com speaks to many online poker affiliates on a regular basis. The consensus is clear: revenues are down thus far in October, way down.

The problem may be driven by fears of a recession and job loss or it could be that online poker rooms are having a tougher time this month with processing new signups.

"I don't know of anyone this month who is generating the same type of revenue they have in recent months," one online poker affiliate told Gambling911.com on Tuesday.

Gambling has long been considered a "recession proof" industry. That may still be the case with web-based gambling, but Las Vegas was hit early on in the crisis with a number of casino companies realizing substantial losses. The problem with Vegas could very well have stemmed from the high price of gas. Escalating fuel costs also resulted in airline fare increases as well as reduced flight schedules in and out of Las Vegas.

"Remember that, historically, gaming markets are not only recession proof, but tend to do well during times of great economic troubles," writes one poker player on the Tight Poker blog.

Some players have taken note of the reduced numbers taking part in poker games at the Borgata in Atlantic City.

One member of the Two Plus Two Forum relayed the following:

"I think the Borgata is less busy now than it has been since the new room opened in 2006. Fewer tables in use at prime time on weekends. Games like 40/80 LHE getting starting later in the day.

"A few of us talked about this over the last few days and all agreed that the recession is affecting the amount of play. Most players know how (not) well they do, so when their financial security is threatened, they scale back. But, some of us true degenerates will persevere, so you still have an opportunity."

In Europe, the online gambling arm of brick and mortar businesses was expected to help some of Great Britain's biggest bookmakers weather the recession that has already cast a dark cloud over that nation.

Davy Stockbrokers said Paddy Power can still grow its earnings by 1.3%. This compares to a decline of 23.9% for Ladbrokes and a fall of 14% for William Hill, where it said an improvement in online business will negate some of the deterioration in retail, a good portion of which will be derived from online poker. During the 1991 British recession, William Hill's turnover fell 7%-8% and earnings dipped 20%.

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Christopher Costigan, Gambling911.com

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