Is Poker on the Decline?

by Lou on December 26, 2005

Naysayers have been saying that poker wouldn’t last since the boom began in 2003. But poker is still hanging strong, and the phenomenon is world-wide.

But based on waning interest in poker merchandise, TV programming, and poker stocks, Reuters is convinced the landscape is changing. But I’m not buying Reuters’ analysis at all. In my opinion, it’s the market that’s changed, not the worldwide interest in poker. In 2004 stores were caught by surprise and didn’t have enough poker merchandise to satisfy potential buyers. Fast-forward to 2005 and retailers overcompensated, in much the same way as TV production companies reacted to the poker phenomenon. They oversaturated the market with a lot of poker programming, some of which was appallingly poor and was saddled with weak production values to boot,

While ratings for poker TV are on the decline, that’s to be expected. The poker-viewing audience is now spread over far too many programs. TV excels at copycat programming. They are masters at repeating a successful format until it topples over of its own dead weight. I’m of the opinion that it’s over saturation and some poor program quality that’s contributing to a decline in poker viewers, which does not equate to a lessening of interest in poker itself.
Reuters opined that investments in online poker companies suffer because of legality issues in the U.S. Yet the evidence doesn’t support that. In fact, PartyGaming, the largest online poker company in the world, finally surpassed its float price last month. They also announced that that annual profits will exceed expectations.

Although legality issues do cast a cloud on online poker sites, they grow less relevant with each additional person who plays poker online. As a keen observer of the poker scene, I don’t think online poker figures to become a priority for law enforcement anytime in the near future, especially when law enforcement professionals cannot tell you with any certainty whether playing poker itself is illegal, or whether the issue is restricted only to those who provide and offering games.

And if that’s not enough, there are no questions at all about legality in the markets where online poker stocks are publicly traded. Anyone in the UK — more precisely, anyone with a brokerage account in jurisdictions where there are no clouds of doubt surrounding online poker, and that’s a lot of the world — can simply phone their broker and to buy a few shares of their favorite poker stock.

Where poker itself is concerned, I’m betting on the come.

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