Online poker traffic dropped 1.1% this week, snapping a five-week winning streak. Nine of the top 10 tracked sites and networks booked a loss for the week.
A global slowdown seems to be gripping the online poker market, as overall traffic is down 4% year-over-year. Various factors may be to blame, such as the worldwide economic slump, market saturation or the end of the poker boom, but the dominant factor may not be known for some time.
Whatever the cause, not even the Big Two are immune to the market malaise. PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker still maintain a combined market share of nearly 60%, but for the first time the combined traffic of the two sites is now in decline. PokerStars still maintains a small positive annual growth rate, but it is more than offset by Full Tilt Poker's 8% drop.
If the market truly is saturated in its present form, operators can look forward to the time when the market expands through legalization and regulation. A large number of US residents are understandably reluctant to play because the Department of Justice maintains that online poker is illegal. When those potential players are able to make deposits easily and play on licensed sites that can advertise freely and openly, another poker boom may be in store. Meanwhile, operators must make do with the "mini-booms" caused by legalization in various European countries.
Top Of The Charts
The top four ranked sites kept their positions this week. This makes 7 consecutive weeks without a change in the top four spots.
PokerStars.fr edged out IPN to take eighth place. Everest Poker moved up two spots to 12th, jumping over People's Network and Svenska Spel. Sky Poker slid down two notches, losing ground to win2day and FullTiltPoker.fr.
Year Over Year
Despite the growing French market, the worldwide growth rate for online poker is back in negative territory. According to PokerScout's ACES indicator, online poker traffic is declining at an annual rate of 4%.
Merge Gaming Network 76%
Cake Poker Network 46%
Everest Poker 46%
iPoker Network 41%
Cereus Network 29%
Full Tilt Poker 8%