The economic recession and the consequent economic recovery have ravaged many businesses worldwide. The poker industry is no different to any other business and as such has not been immune to this economic upheaval.
Upheaval in the poker industry can be illustrated in the decline in the casino industry. At a four day Global Gaming Expo which took place in Las Vegas, Frank Fahrenkopf, CEO of the American Gaming Association highlighted the layout of the casino industry.
In his address to the Global Gaming Expo Frank Fahrenkopf said, "Consumer discretionary spending has been significantly depressed throughout most of the year, which means that the gaming industry, and others like it, have continued to struggle." This seems to be in line with 2009 with the casino industry seeing only a 1.3% increase in gambling revenue in the 3rd quarter of this year.
Interestingly enough Fahrenkoph pointed out that companies that have a presence in Asia have performed better than those who operate exclusively in America and / or in Europe. However following a survey conducted by the American Gaming Association most industry professionals are down beat as to any fast recovery of casino revenue.
The above would suggest that more and more people are gambling at home rather than at their local casino. This is understandable as people just do not have enough available funds in which to enjoy and maintain their pre-recession lifestyle.
According to the survey conducted by the American Gaming Association the majority of those who took part melt on-line gambling and server based slot machines will have the largest impact on the industry in the next decade. No coincidence then that ChilliPoker.com, one of Europe's leading on-line poker brands has announced plans to launch a subscription based poker site targeting the American public in 2011.
Does this mean the end of the poker industry as we know it?
At the beginning of this article I stated that the poker industry is no different to any other industry in that it has been affected by the economic upheaval of the worldwide recession. It is a pretty obvious thing to say, the poker industry is intrinsically linked to the well being of the economy, however there is more to this statement than the obvious.
To say that the poker industry is intrinsically linked to the well being of the economy does not simply mean looking at a single company's profit and loss margins and forming judgments based on that alone. By considering this proposal it also allows one to understand the reasons why people are not parting with their cash.
When the economic conditions are right, people have money and will spend their hard earned cash. In this kind of economic milae both businesses and customers are confident in the way they have and in the way they spend.
Unfortunately the economic conditions are such that both business and customers are not confident as the economy is not performing. Subsequently people are staying at home and looking for alternative methods in which to gamble, eg on-line gambling.
I have no doubt that when, not if, when the economy recovers people will return to their previous spending habits, albeit with caution. However dealing with the here and now gamblers need options to carry on playing in an affordable manner and in an environment which is conducive to gambling.
As stated most professionals believe that on-line gambling and server based slot machines will have the largest impact on the industry in the next decade. I would go further I would suggest that every option will be examined and utilized by poker players be it on-line or through the sale of more affordable items such as poker table tops. Whatever option as long as it allows people to play in an environment conducive to gambling.
To quantify that I would say if options are provided allowing poker players to play poker this will allow the player the opportunity to enjoy the feeling of playing until such time as the economic conditions are right for them to return to the casinos. Casinos will however have to ride the economic storm until such time arrives.
In this article I asked the question 'Does this mean the end of the poker industry as we know it?' when making reference to the layout of casinos at this time. I believe the following.
I do believe that people will return to playing in casinos but not until such time as when it is economically sound to do so, when people are confident to spend again. I also believe though, that at present poker players have to be afforded the opportunity to play in the current economic climate in order maintain interest in the game.
Where people are afforded this opportunity to play they will not forget the feeling, the thrill of gambling and winning. It is this that is paramount to the poker player remembering the thrill of the casino and making them want to return when it is possible to do so.
Where the poker industry may not be coming to an end it is evolving. With the birth of on-line gambling and products like poker table tops making poker more accessible to play at home, I believe the landscape of poker is changing and must be embroced for the good of the game and the many companies who depend on it.