Study: online poker doesn’t cannibalize B&M casinos, doesn’t harm lotteries

TAGs: Convergence, Online Poker

online-poker-complements-casinosPoker is often thought of as something of a boys’ club, but a recent survey shows three times as many American women have a hankering to play poker online than do their male counterparts. The survey, commissioned by the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism at Richard Stockton College, spoke to 3,000 people concentrated mainly in the northeast United States. Of these, between 16–25% claimed they had no problem playing online versions of different casino table games.

In keeping with the younger generations’ greater facility with online entertainment, one in four people under the age of 30 said they would gamble online, whereas only one in 10 people aged 30–49 felt comfortable with the concept. But the startling figure – and we’re really hoping the Associated Press didn’t make a typo – is that 40% of women ‘favored’ online poker, compared to just 13% of men. Have men really been making women feel that unwelcome at live poker events that they should be so underrepresented at the live tables yet appear to be positively gagging for an online seat? Curiouser and curiouser…

A more comprehensive study (download it here) by researchers at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the University of Hamburg’s Institute of Law & Economics, claims that online poker complements, rather than cannibalizes, action at brick & mortar casinos. (Gee, that sounds familiar.) This cannibalization claim had long been cited as the chief reason for American B&M casino companies’ historically antagonistic stance toward online gambling, until their ‘road to Damascus’ conversion in 2010 (although Sheldon Adelson still believes it). Instead, the study suggests a “small but significant positive relationship” between B&M casinos and online poker. Poking a hole in another online poker enemy’s pet theory, the study found online poker had “no significant effects” on local lottery industries.

More interesting are the study’s hard numbers regarding North American online poker participation in the period post-UIGEA/pre-Black Friday, drawn from the University of Hamburg’s Online Poker Database. The figures show 0.46% of the US population (1.429m) played online poker for money between Sept. 2009 and March 2010. The biggest slice of this pie (16%) came from (surprise) California, where 178k players generated $155m in playing volume. New York was next in dollars generated ($72m) from 83k players, while Texas had more players (108k) spending less money ($62m). Proportionately, the states with the most players per capita were New Hampshire (0.97%) and Nevada (0.96%). All told, the US market was worth $981m to international online poker operators, out of a total worldwide market estimated at $3.6b.

North of the border in Canada, the real-money online poker participation rate (0.9%) was nearly twice that of the US. Canada has roughly 10% the US population, but the total dollar value of the Canadian market was $220m, or 22% of the American total. So are these 307k online poker-playing Canadians complete degens or do these stats reflect the lack of a similar war on online poker ecom that went on below the 49th parallel? (While the latter is more likely, we’re going with the degen theory. Remember, it’s always the quiet ones whose freezers contain human heads.) The biggest poker-playing provinces were Ontario (37.7% of the total pie), Quebec (18.7%) and British Columbia (17.3%). Meanwhile, the sparsely populated Northwest Territories boasted a prevalence rate five times that of the US. What else are you going to do with six months of no daylight?


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