A new year is upon us, which brings with it a flurry of prognostications about the coming months in the online poker industry. As anyone can tell you, our world is constantly in flux, leading to what will likely be unpredictable headlines in 2010. However, we here at MacPoker.com have gathered our thoughts to give you a few predictions for the next ten months.
The poker news headlines at the beginning of the year have pointed towards the potential for more legalization and regulation of online poker in 2010. The epicenter of the fight is on Capitol Hill, where legislation proposed by Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) would provide a comprehensive framework for online gaming companies to solicit customers from the United States. The measure is up to 65 co-sponsors on both sides of the aisle and has remained a central focus of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), the industry’s main lobbying voice.
In New Jersey, State Senator Raymond Lesniak proposed legislation to allow intrastate online casino games like poker. The bill marks a response by New Jersey lawmakers to increased gaming opportunities in nearby Pennsylvania and Delaware. With Atlantic City gaming revenues continuing to shrink every month, Lesniak’s bill may soon come to fruition. Increased internet gambling opportunities in Quebec, Florida, California, and other locales may soon become realities.
Online Qualifiers Mean Attendance
As nearly anyone can tell you, the more online qualifiers there are for an event, the more players will turn out. Take the World Poker Tour (WPT), for example, which has seen its attendance dwindle tournament after tournament. However, the company’s recent acquisition by Party Gaming (the parent company of PartyPoker) may buck this trend. The launch of the PokerStars-backed North American Poker Tour (NAPT) has already resulted in more than 200 players qualifying through the world’s largest online poker site for the tour’s Venetian stop. The NAPT Venetian doesn’t even begin until January 20th. The televised tournament is sure to be one of the largest non-World Series of Poker (WSOP) events ever to take place.
More Mixed Games
As we’ve seen in recent years, Mixed Games will continue to grow in popularity and importance. Although, as the great Mike Sexton says, Texas Hold’em takes a minute to learn and a lifetime to master, many players have grown weary of the game. Take the 2010 WSOP, for example, where a $50,000 buy-in Player’s Championship features an Eight Game Mix format. The tournament is one of only a handful that will be broadcasted on ESPN and boasts a buy-in that is five times that of the Main Event. Prior to the Player’s Championship, the $50,000 buy-in HORSE Championship was one of the schedule’s central contests.
Consolidation Breeds Success
Recently, the Everleaf and UPN Networks merged. The result is an online poker network that is expected to rival the traffic found on Betfair. Rumored for later in the year is a merger of Party Gaming and bwin, which could create a massive online poker, casino, and sports book outfit. All of this consolation is aimed to gain liquidity in an industry dominated by two sites, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. The duo has claimed a large chunk of the marketplace, leading to fewer and fewer players on other sites. Both Party Gaming and bwin are publicly traded companies, leading to what could be the largest internet gaming merger in history.
We expect the availability of fully downloadable Mac poker software to increase in 2010. With Apple launching products like the recent iPad en masse, we expect online poker sites to continue to recognize the importance of the Mac market. Although many sites have Web play versions already to accommodate Mac players, expect additional full-fledged Mac compatible clients.
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