Online Poker takes off...
While the online casino industry continues to enjoy modest growth, its younger cousin, online poker rooms, are growing at a rapid rate. Online poke boasts by far the fastest growth of all the online gambling sectors, and it won't be long now before mum and dad investors will be able to get a piece of the action when the industry's biggest player goes public later this year.
The rate of growth of the online poker market in the last two years has been staggering. According to PokerPulse.com, daily bets at online poker rooms have increased from an estimated $11/day two years ago, to over $190 million currently, and player numbers have swelled from 83 thousand to 1.9 million in the same period. Currently, 60% to 80% of the online poker market comprises US players - a fact that does give rise to questions of sustainability of growth in light of considerations of the legality of online gambling in the US.
This phenomenal growth has been attribute in part to the popularity of recently televised poker tournaments like the World Series Poker and World Poker Tour that have introduced the game into the living rooms of millions of viewers worldwide. And reports of celebrities such as Michael Jordan and Ben Affleck being poker enthusiasts has certainly done nothing to cool the publics apparent love affair with this game.
Add to all this the fact that technology has reached the point where it can now deliver a realistic, easy to play interface offering poker rooms online that are fun to play, and I guess you have all he ingredients for huge uptake.
There are now around 250 online poker rooms, powered by around 50 distinct operators. The online poker rooms operate as a casino poker game would...essentially it is player versus player format, with the house taking a small percentage of each pot - called the 'Rake'. And the undisputed heavyweight of the industry, IGlobalMedia, owners of PartyGaming and the worlds largest online poker room, PartyPoker, is looking to cash in on the poker bonanza by going to IPO on the London Stock Exchange at the end of this year (2005).
IGlobal Media claims they have around a 50% share of the current online poker market, equating to a profit before tax in 2004 of $350 million, and and expected IPO valuation of around $11 billion dollars. This will represent the biggest float in London since July 2000.
More interesting statistics on online poker...
For more details on where to play poker online, check out our poker rooms page.
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