Raising the stakes

By Carl Friedmann
With 2021 looking likely to be a transformational one for online poker, especially in the US, EvenBet Gaming runs the rule over the biggest developments in the rapidly growing market

The first final numbers for 2020 clearly show how successful online poker was throughout the year. The state of New Jersey published impressive data showing 74% online poker growth in 2020, with the revenues of top operators going up even more.

Reports indicate that the US has seen growth in first-time online poker players of 255% since the introduction of lockdown measures. All in all, the industry has had a 43% increase since April 2020.




Some experts believe that Joe Biden has every chance to bring back online poker in the United States. According to reports, he may look to cancel the 2018 decision made by the Department of Justice on the Wire Act.

Elsewhere, Indiana could be the next state to get the ball rolling on poker legislation. The region already has a large sports betting economy, which is only growing – in December 2020 the state took $313m in wagers on sporting events, which outstrips its earlier record by $62m.

Meanwhile, Michigan has approved its first 15 online gambling licences since December and may now look to permit interstate traffic in online poker.

Additionally, New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware have been sharing poker players since 2018, but Caesars Interactive Entertainment, and its 888 Holdings partner, are now exclusively operating online poker sites in all three states. Pennsylvania has allowed the operation of online poker, but is yet to join these other states in a joint liquidity pool.



Germany is currently compiling data on online gaming growth, and a new effort by finance ministers has led to a new tax proposal: they are offering a tax of 5.3% for online poker stakes and 8% for online slots.

The Dusseldorf Institute for Competition Economics concluded the tax rates would have an untoward effect, which would result in more gamblers taking their business underground. It said that taxes should be fixed against gross revenue at 15 to 20%. There’s still no evidence as to whether policy makers will adopt this recommendation.

There has been big news in Ukraine also. In February the county granted its first online casino licence since a 2009 ban. Spaceiks LLC became the first online gambling operator licensed under the new 2020 act, and two more licences have been granted since.

KRAIL, Ukraine’s commission for the regulation of gambling and lotteries, has quite a few crucial demands for applicants, however. Prior to the acceptance of the Spaceiks application, five other companies were outright refused by the authority because of incorrect execution of the needed documents. Spaceiks itself was turned down a total of three times.


Market focus: Switzerland


At the end of 2020, the first regulated poker room was opened in Switzerland by Swiss Casinos Holding AG. It currently operates four of the 21 licensed casinos in the country, although this will be the company’s first foray into online poker. Swiss Casinos has partnered with Playtech, and set up its online poker room on the iPoker network. This ended an 18-month ‘call ups’ period in the country for operators due to regulations.

While other online games have been available over the past two years, the Swiss Casino poker platform is the first of its kind in the market.


Revenue and YOY growth for 2020 


- WSOP/888: $16.3m, 84.9%


- PokerStars NJ: $12.6m, 81%


- Partypoker US: $9.7m, 91.85%


*All stats and text from EvenBet's Online Poker Wrap-Up (Feb 2021)