In this column, we deliver you the latest and most interesting online poker industry news from across the world and all platforms.
UK gambling ads crackdown
There is a lot happening in European gambling legislation. We previously reported about the situation in Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands and now the United Kingdom is working on tidying up and ironing out their gambling laws.
1st October marked the day when the latest IGRG (Industry Group for Responsible Gambling) rules were adopted. The main focus of the new rules is on preventing citizens below the age of 18 to be exposed to gambling advertisements.
And where do underaged humans frequent? Exactly! Social media, Twitch, YouTube, etc. So, the new rules outline how operators must act when it comes to advertising, social media, ambassadorship, sponsorship and other forms of public-facing content.
Many operators flew into a flurry of activity just before the end of September, making sure to comply with the news rules.
Due to new UKIGC regulations in the UK, I have had to pause my sponsorship with @partypoker as of now. I expect to join again once I get home to Canada in two months. As for now, stream continues as usual, but independently.
— Jaime Staples (@jaimestaples) October 2, 2020
Jaime’s social media channels have been stripped of partypoker logos and look like before he ever became a sponsored pro many years back, displaying the good old Pokerstaples stapler.
The UK is an incredibly valuable gambling market and operators will do whatever it takes to not lose it. With more and more countries continuing to comply with European laws, we will see a lot more changes on the continent when it comes to gambling and gaming regulations.
Throughout the lockdown months, poker companies have been seeing massive uplifts in traffic. Many jumped onto the opportunity, adding extra offers, tournament series and advertisement.
One company had been fairly quiet the whole time, and this was 888poker. Now during the 888 Holdings’ H1 2020 financial results presentation, it was revealed that the poker sector for 888 had grown 56% year-on-year to $36.1 million. CEO Itai Pazner also admitted that the operator was indeed caught unprepared.
“Poker was definitely the surprising vertical of the period, with many players shifting from physical poker games to online and a product that has a strong recreational nature and represents very good value for time spent on it,” said Itai Pazner, 888 Holdings’ CEO.
He continued, “We saw an overwhelming increase in new players and activity in poker, which caught us slightly unprepared and required us to upgrade and expand our poker servers in order to deal with increased levels of activity which we managed to do in a fast and efficient way.”
PokerIndustryPRO’s author Nick Jones summarized his learnings from the presentation on Twitter, in case you’d like to read more details about 888’s take on things, their new releases and changes to the product and plans for the future.
Loads of interesting titbits from 888's H1 2020 and investors call as it pertains to online poker.
I'll pull out some of the highlights below.
— Nick Jones (@pokerprojones) October 6, 2020
PokerStars Ticket Machine & Bounty Builder Series
PokerStars is picking up with offerings and promotions. Quite often in the PokerStars world there is one thing, and one thing only when it comes to promotions, tournament series etc.. The leader in the poker industry likes to take things slow, do one thing at a time, and do it clean and focussed.
There is now a slight feeling of multiple efforts in the client with especially two very nice interlacing activities – the popular Bounty Builder Series and the new Ticket Machine.
The Bounty Builder Series is the first tournament series after WCCOP and guarantees the so far biggest $30 million in prizes this year. It will start on 11th October and run for two weeks across 213 tournaments.
Every tournament is a PKO (Progressive Knockout) and some events are even freezeouts without additional re-entries. Buy-ins range from $1.10 to $1.050. The Main Event has a buy-in of $530 and guarantees $2.5 million and for the first time, there is even a Mini-Main Event version for $55 and a $1 million guarantee.
And now to the interesting, interlacing Ticket Machine! For every scheduled tournament you enter in the months of October and November you will receive tickets for the Ticket Machine. The Machine will randomly distribute $3 million worth of tournament tickets to players.
It’s one of the biggest giveaways that we have seen at Stars and to participate all you need to do is opt in through your “Challenges” page and play tournaments with $5 buy-in or higher.
You can collect up to 4 tickets per tier (Low, Medium, Over $100) and every night at midnight there will be a draw for the winning tickets.
Some great reasons to play on Stars this month for sure.
But there are also good reasons to play on partypoker and Unibet. partypoker’s Daily Legends also include added tickets to other MTT son the client and they have generally been made more “recreational friendly” with reduced late registration and limited re-entries.
But in addition to this, partypoker also quietly reduced rake for Sit & Gos. All in the name of fun and making poker more accessible for the “fun players”.
But partypoker isn’t the only operator making Sit & Gos cheaper. Unibet recently announced that they will reduce rake across all tiers starting in November. And celebrate this change they even run all higher tier Sit & Go completely rake-free for the remainder of October.
It stays interesting and we can all just hope that this is a reasonable development that will end up creating positive effects on the poker economy.
WPN cancels MoMoMo PKO due to overlays
The Winning Poker Network (WPN) had been struggling hard with overlays the past weeks. It has been estimated that the overlays, especially for MoMoMo PKO events had added up to over $500k.
As a result WPN has now announced the cancellation of the tournament series.
— Americas Cardroom (@ACR_POKER) October 2, 2020
In the blog post ACR is taking a very honest approach stating “we just can’t sustain the huge overlays we’re having”. And the author also points out a silver lining to all this as they are going to keep the $1 million GTD events on the schedule (Sunday, 4th, 11th, and 18th October).
In addition to this, the $5 Million Venom PKO tournament (starting on 23rd October) is going to go ahead as well.
PKOs are a new format for WPN and they reached high with the MoMoMo PKO Series. It was a little too high this time, but chances are PKO will have a victorious comeback on the network once players have been used to it a bit more.