Online poker has been a “lifesaver for sports betting operators” according to Evenbet Gaming’s CEO Dmitry Starostenkov, as the platform sees a significant rise in popularity and importance amidst the COVID-19 crisis.
Speaking at SBC’s Digital Summit, Starostnikov and a panel of industry experts discussed how poker’s landscape has once again changed due to recent events which has severely reduced sports betting options.
Starostnikov stated: “I think that poker is acting as a lifesaver for sports betting operators right now along with casino content and virtual sports. What we are seeing now interestingly is a high demand from players to sports betting operators for online poker specifically.
“Even the operators which were not very keen on adding poker into their portfolio are all now contacting us to add poker. With existing clients we are also seeing big increases.”
“From 2010 to 2019, it’s (the poker industry) been difficult to survive,” added Ivonne Montealegre, founder and event director of the Malta Poker Festival.
She continued: “However, with this pandemic, live poker completely shut down and sports betting completely shut down, poker is thriving and it’s a new second wave as the money maker.”
The panellists did concede that the likelihood of poker continuing its meteoric rise amidst the coronavirus is highly unlikely. Nevertheless Pokerok’s COO Sergii Romanenko expressed that while the boom will not last forever, the online poker market has become more sustainable in the long-term.
Romanenko said: “I hope it will be the next poker boom however to be honest it’s hard to predict but generally I predict that poker will become healthy after quarentine. It will be hard to keep the pace of the last two months.
“I think that now all the power players that had never previously played online will understand the advantages of online poker.”
Whilst online poker has risen in stock over previous weeks, live poker events and casinos have ultimately had to shut down in order to follow global virus guidelines. However, Montealegre felt that whilst initially the live industry will take a financial hit from the pandemic, even after restrictions are loosened, poker firms have learned to adapt and use the online market to their advantage.
The Malta Poker Festival founder said: “poker is interesting in that it has managed to mix a live part with the online part but the live part right now is dead. When the live market becomes reactivated it will take its share of the market again.
“But we will learn as an industry, Live poker will learn that some online (poker) needs to be deployed.”
The panelist also discussed a wide range of topics about the overall poker industry including how it is being consumed and Latin-America’s blossoming market.
SBC Digital Summit’s ‘Poker to the rescue’ panel discussion was sponsored by Evenbet Gaming and moderated by Jonas Odman, the founder and CEO of Rising Sun Media.
The SBC event runs from 27 April to 1 May 2020 featuring a variety of industry expert panels, virtual networking lounges and a virtual exhibition. Whilst also offering an on-demand feature if you miss or want to rewatch the panel sessions.
The Digital Summit has attracted an estimated 10,000 delegates from around the world to discuss some of the industry’s biggest topics, Such as how the poker sector has reacted to COVID-19 pandemic. If you wish to join the event then register here.