A report published by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) which studied participation, employment, and revenue data of the UK gaming industry, shows that online poker continues to lose ground to online casino games and sports betting in the country. The report covered the market from April 2016 to March 2017.
The UK is now the world’s biggest and most well-regulated online gambling market, with over 21 million active accounts.
According to the Annual Report and Accounts by the UKGC, the online gambling sector generated £4.5 billion in gross gambling yield (GGY). Online casino games accounted for the majority of this GGY generating £2.6 billion, while sports betting generated £1.6 billion. The online slots market has also shown an uptick with revenues of £1.8 billion.
In comparison, online poker, online bingo, and pool betting have remained sluggish. Online bingo generated a total of £153 million while pool betting only amounted to £26 million. Online poker also paled in comparison at £101 million, which amounted to a little over 5 percent of the combined GGY.
Many believe that the decline of online poker has been due to the unfair advantage skilled players hold over average players. Unlike in casino games where more is left to chance, variance in poker games is relatively small due to the amount of skill required to win the table. Due to this, more casual poker players are swayed to move over to to less skill-essential games such as online slots.
Because of this trend, more online operators are introducing innovations and restrictions to vary the outcome of games. Some of the changes introduced include the ban of tracking software and removing seat choices at cash tables to mix up the match. The newer Fast-Fold type of poker, and games such as PokerStars Spin & Go are some of these innovations to make poker easier and more fun for beginners and casual players.
Another one of the tactics employed by operators are hybrid variations where poker is incorporated into social and video gaming experiences. One of the recently launched social casino adventure mobile game is WildPoker, where social poker is mixed with strategy, adventure and beautiful graphics native to mobile games.
Many believe that for online poker to survive, the game must be able to adapt and evolve with new technology. As players desire more high-octane and high-stakes games, online poker must also follow suit.
While online gaming continues to get the lion’s share of UK’s GGY, the National Lottery generated £3.4 billion, high street betting brought in close to £3.3 billion, and traditional brick-and-mortar casinos turned in £1 billion.