The Boom in Online Poker in 2020

Many industries struggled in 2020 – but online poker was not one of them (keyword online, as poker in casinos took a big hit in 2020).

There are many logical reasons why the infamous card game had a sudden surge in popularity in 2020 – which we will highlight and explain below.

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Too Much Time on Their Hands

Over the last year, many people have had extra time on their hands and were looking for ways to fill it. This spare time was especially notable last March and April – when the world effectively shut down. When this happened, the interest in online poker increased – which is evident by the total volume of online poker searches in search engines and the total revenue reported from online poker by some states.

Most people have some knowledge of poker and understand it is a slower game (compared to, say, online blackjack or virtual slots), meaning they could jump in without much explanation and get more enjoyment and time out of poker over other games.

Money to Spend, but Nowhere to Spend it

Not everyone took a financial hit from the pandemic – but because of shutdowns and restrictions – people who were financially okay over the last year have had fewer ways to spend their money. Many forms of entertainment – concerts, movie theatres, sporting events, travel…etc. – were closed, cancelled, or playing in empty stadiums.

For people with the money and looking for some excitement, online poker helped fill that void. Online poker offers a diverse number of options for different players on different budgets. It is also readily available 24 hours per day and easily accessible from home or by your phone. And most importantly, it is fun!

Gambling Overall Growing in Popularity

The opinion in the United States towards gambling is continually becoming more positive and accepting. A significant part of the shifting public opinion is the legalization of sports betting in multiple states (excluding Nevada, the only state it was physically legal prior to 2018). However, poker and other forms of gambling have played a part in this too. As the public's view of gambling shifts, more people feel comfortable playing poker, other games, and betting on sports.

The Difficulty of Playing Poker in Person

Many poker players only played in person – the type of casual player who enjoys a few weekend trips to Las Vegas with friends. However, shutdowns made it impossible for a while and following restrictions – and health officials' recommendations means many did not (or could not) play in person. To scratch that itch, people had to play online.

Something to do with Friends

Poker is a great game to play with colleagues and friends – but with all the touching and close quarters involved in the game, many are opting to play online. When playing with friends, poker is as much a social game as it is a game of skill and strategy – although if the pot is big enough and niceties may be pushed aside for the night.

Growth Expected to Continue in 2021 and On

Experts in the industry are currently forecasting the growth in online poker to continue in 2021 and the years after. For at least the start of 2021, many people are still spending most of their time at home – meaning online poker and other forms of entertainment are likely to have a strong year (while physical casinos deal with another sluggish year).

The growth outside of 2021 depends on a few factors – such as economies recovering around the world and people gaining more access to the internet and access to faster internet. Overall, projections are for the industry to continue growing until 2026 – barring something unforeseeable.