The online gambling industry in the United Kingdom (UK) has flourished in recent years as iGaming operators have come up with innovative promotions and marketing strategies to penetrate the UK market. While online gambling in general has flourished, the same cannot be said of the online poker industry.
UKGC Report Shows Online Poker in Decline
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) recently published a report covering employment, participation and revenue details from April 2016 to March 2017. The UKGC report showed that the online poker industry generated around $136 million during this period whereas the online slots industry brought in $2.2 billion and the sports betting market generated $2.5 billion during this same period.
The total gross gambling yield (GGY) during this period was around $3.5 billion, which meant that the online poker industry generated a little over 5 percent of the GGY. The UK online gambling industry as a whole saw a 10.1 percent GGY increase year-on-year.  These stats prove that online poker has continued to decline in the UK, as online gamblers prefer more entertaining options such as online slots and sports betting.
PokerStars Anticipated The Decline In Global Online Poker   
PokerStars, the biggest online poker website in the world controls nearly 60 percent of the global online poker market. The company decided a couple of years ago that it would be better for it to diversify its online poker offerings instead of depending on online poker to continue to be its bread and butter in terms of revenue.
PokerStars decided to introduce online casino games and sports betting services and in retrospect that turned out to be an excellent decision for the company. The online poker giant decided to cross-sell its online services and promoted both online casino games and sports betting to its massive online poker database. This gave poker players the option of switching over to different games whenever they needed a change or felt bored.
The Stars Group (TSG) which is the parent company of PokerStars, reported third quarter results that in many ways are similar to the UKGC report. TSG reported that for the third quarter ending in September, online poker revenues went up by 12.5 percent to reach $221.4 million. While this looks like pretty decent growth, the company’s online casino and sports betting offerings saw a combined increase of 48 percent for the same quarter.
Online Poker Operators Will Have To Innovate To Stay Relevant
Online poker operators like 888poker and partypoker have continued to push their online poker offerings and have had good success. However, smaller online poker operators are struggling to stay relevant and compete with the bigger players. They now also have to think about introducing innovative online poker tournaments and events that will capture the attention of poker players.
The UKGC report gives us an indication that online poker players in the UK prefer to play games that offer then a fun game experience rather than games that demand a high level of skill. This would require that online poker operators in the UK introduce online poker events that have large jackpots and games that have a higher chance factor in its gaming strategy.
UK Market An Indicator Of Global Online Poker Market
The UKGC report and PokerStars third quarter results show that online poker numbers are continuing to decline while online casino games and sports betting numbers continue to climb.  There will be optimists who try to dismiss these numbers on the basis that it is just one country’s gaming data and one online poker operator’s numbers.
The UK has one of the largest regulated online gambling markets in the world and PokerStars is the number one online poker operator in the world. Hence, data from these two sources provide us with a good indication of what could possible happen to the online poker industry in the next decade.
Online poker revenues are likely to stagnate in global markets during the coming years and it will be up to gaming regulators to find ways to boost online poker. European regulators in Italy, Portugal, Spain and France have already decided to move forward with shared online poker liquidity to address their struggling markets. It will be interesting to see what changes will be introduced in the coming years to make online poker competitive with sports betting and online casino games.

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