In poker lingo, the term ‘fish’ refers to inexperienced players who almost always get robbed out of their money by pros. When the United States went into COVID-19 lockdown, the number of poker fish increased dramatically.
The owners of internet casino rooms are not the only ones who find themselves in a good financial situation during the pandemic. The same goes for professional poker players, who have been making big profits at the expense of new fish.
Poker Sites Breaking Records During the Lockdown
There are four states in the US where online poker is legal, namely, Nevada, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Each of these states reported record revenues in March.
In New Jersey, for example, online poker sites cashed in combined revenue of $3,629,112 in March, which is almost 91% more than what they earned the same month last year.
Online poker rooms also reported large financial gains in the previous couple of months. GGPoker, for example, recorded a $500,000 guarantee pot for the first time in history after 3,662 players joined the online tournament. In addition, the WSOP Super Circuit Series, an online version of the canceled Las Vegas event, attracted so much attention that they decided to increase the prize pool from $1.24m to $4m.
Google Trends also shows an increase in interest in online poker in America during the COVID-19 pandemic. The search volume for the term ‘online poker’ peaked between March 22 and 28. The number of searches started climbing up after the White House officially asked Americans to stay home for a couple of weeks starting March 16.
Inexperienced Players End Up Empty-handed
Professional poker players are among those who have profited the most during the crisis. Not only is it easier to win against newcomers then against fellow-pros, but a boost in the number of players also means larger pots. The more people play poker, the more money is wagered.
This has worried anti-gambling advocates in the United States, who are concerned that the lockdown could have a negative impact on problem gambling. A non-governmental organization called Stop Predatory Gambling has already called on state lotteries to suspend operations during the lockdown. Something similar might be introduced for online poker as well but for now players can still access poker online from the UK.
Over the seas, several countries have decided to suspend gambling activities until the COVID-19 crisis is over. In the United Kingdom, betting firms are to stop advertising on TV during the lockdown. In Sweden, new legislation is preventing players from depositing more than 5,000kr (~$500) a week to online gambling sites.
Similar laws are in force in several other European countries, including Spain and Belgium. The former USSR republic Latvia has decided to take things furthest with a ban on all gambling activities.
The Rise of Online Casinos, the Downfall of Land-Based Venues
With nowhere to go, people in lockdown are turning to online gambling to deal with boredom. A big percentage of them have been hemorrhaging their money to internet casinos and poker rooms. As a result, the online gaming industry has been booming over the last couple of months.
It’s just the opposite when it comes to the land-based casino industry. Although casinos around the US are starting to reopen, the industry has already suffered serious damage.
Nevada and in particular, Las Vegas, have been hit really hard by the crisis despite their technological progression. Since March, Sin City has been a Ghost Town, with all casinos and resorts being shut down for more than two months.
According to the Nevada Department of Employment, the state is seeing the highest unemployment rates in history as more than one-quarter of its labor force is in the hospitality industry.
On the bright side, the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be slowing down. America has started reopening, with several states already going back to business as usual. Nevada might not be one of them, but Las Vegas casinos are expected to reopen on June 4.