PartyGaming’s poker revenue for Q1 2010 was 11% lower than Q1 2009 and 34% lower than Q1 2008. Bwin’s Q1 poker numbers (excluding Gioco Digitale) were even worse: the revenue decreased by 17%. For the US-facing poker sites/networks, revenue numbers are not available but judging from the player numbers at PokerScout.com the trend is the same. Between January and May, the peak numbers for Pokerstars, Full Tilt and Bodog have gone down 11%, 18% and 19%, respectively.
It is reasonable to ask whether online poker is on the decline. I think it is, at least in the markets which were hit by the poker boom early. Casual players who used to play online poker are now spending their money elsewhere. Without fresh money from players who play for entertainment value and are actually willing to lose, the revenue for the poker companies will inevitably decrease and the games will become tougher for the remaining players. The latter is something I often hear poker players complain about nowadays.
Now it is more important than ever to focus on bringing in new casual players instead of the traditional strategy of catering to the winning players by offering them extreme multi-tabling functionality and other tools to make it easier for them to win the casual players’ money. Also, the money which today is unnecessarily spent on retaining the winning players through different reward programs should be spent on casual players. The winning players will stay anyway.