But the sites which still accept players from the USA have, certainly, shown growth. Thus, on the very eve of the New Year 2008 PokerStars announced about achievement of 150 000 poker players simultaneously, but still these growth rates are not more than 50 percent per year.
Curiously enough, the slowdown of online poker room players was also very noticeable offline. For the first time over many years at the main WSOP tournament there were fewer players than the previous year, at this, approximately 20 percent less. Earlier a large number of gamblers were presented by online poker rooms, but decrease in the number of American gamblers online, as well as tougher rules concerning the advertising of online poker rooms at the tournament resulted in the rooms being passive in involvement of gamblers for WSOP.
If everything is bad in America, than in Europe the situation is contradictory. On the one hand, the EU did not allow the Italians, trying to ban online casino games, to do it. A new law in Great Britain not only legalizes online wagering as well as allows advertising online casinos, however, the company should be licensed in the EU. In connection with this, Malta, which has become the centre of online companies in Europe, has a windfall and will manage to earn quite some money. On the other hand, Germany passed a law right on New Year’s Eve which banned online casino games and their advertising, though, everybody considers that the EU will make the German repeal the law in question. For quite a while there are rumours in the air that Norway will ban online casino games, Turkey, though it is not quite a European country but it has also imposed a ban.
As for online poker, there was a rift within online poker rooms awaiting for its resolution. For the first time fraud in an online poker room was proved and accepted (to be more exact, not the room itself, but of one of its senior managers). Absolute Poker confessed that one of the managers gained access to the players’ cards (he knew all the pocket cards, but not the cards which drop out at the flop/turn/river). He shared this information with his partner who managed to win a big tournament. To prove everything was possible due to a mere mistake in sending of the history which was received by another participant of the disastrous tournament. Absolute Poker made an investigation, promised to refund losses to all those who suffered and toughen the security system. Though, Absolute Poker cheating scandal has caused damage not only for a poker-room, as well as the industry as a whole, however, this blow is not deadly.
From the technical point of view, the past year has not brought anything new. The mobile poker, 3D-poker, are being gradually developed, but all this appeared even earlier. Online poker rooms actively create versions not to be downloaded, add new games, improve the interface, add new methods of payment and change table sizes.
What is awaiting us in the course of the year 2008 which has set in? I doubt whether it is worthwhile waiting for a breakthrough. The period of heavy growth in online gambling industry has already terminated, the period of consolidation is coming, the time of struggle for new casino players. Poker networks will continue to grow (both as regards the number of rooms and gamblers), evidently, there will be mergers and takeovers. Advertising budgets will grow, but players will hardly be able to make a profit out of it – casino bonus conditions will most probably worsen. The level of gamblers will slowly but surely grow, most likely, so that the competition will grow at tables. Hopefully, you won’t suffer from all these trends, I wish you success in game and happy year!