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Kevin Smith

Ladbrokes: 'Poker Is on the Rise'

12 January 2004

A new report published last week by U.K. bookmaker Ladbrokes confirms what many in the industry already knew about online poker.

The study, "The Poker Britain Report, An Examination of the Explosion of Poker Playing Across the UK," looks at the popularity of playing poker online and how Internet poker rooms are becoming a major part of the interactive gaming landscape.

According to Ladbrokes' figures, worldwide online poker handle increased from 8.5 million euro a day in January 2003 to 53.9 million euro a day in December.

Highlights from the Ladbrokes Study:

  • Ninety percent of all play online is with the "Big Five" operators, of which Ladbrokes is the only European member.

  • Bright, young, net-savvy students are gripped by the game.

  • TV poker tournaments are garnering interest and a long list of celebrity players, such as Ben Affleck and Robbie Williams, are adding glamour.

The study also shows that the number of poker sites increased from 30 in 2002 to more than 150 in 2003.

Online poker has seen a meteoric rise all over the globe. The 2003 World Series of Poker (WSOP) broke ratings records for ESPN. The first season of the World Poker Tour produced similar results for the Travel Channel.

Both events are land-based tournaments, but online sites benefit from the overall growth in popularity of poker. The 2003 winner of the WSOP, Chris Moneymaker, qualified online at He paid $40 up front to play in a mini-qualifying tournament and advanced to win a satellite tournament, which landed him a seat in the WSOP.

The report predicts growth particularly in the British market, where 2.9 million adults expressed an interest in playing online poker.

It also examined who is playing online, who is winning, how high the stakes are and why punters are becoming gripped by the game online.

Albert Tapper, a spokesman for Ladbrokes Poker, said the attention from the land-based gambling world and the willingness of gamers to play online have turned Internet poker into a giant global gaming phenomenon.

"TV coverage and Internet technology combined to grow online poker six-fold in 2003," Tapper said. "For the first time, poker isn't a closed shop. Anyone can play it anytime, from the comfort of the living room."

The site is capitalizing. More than 50,000 registered users play on the site, which makes its money by taking a percentage of the stake gambled on each hand.

But the news isn't all good. The ease of playing from home has raised concerned among problem gambling groups.

One problem gambling counselor expressed his views to the London Telegraph, saying, "Of all the forms of Internet gambling we have seen to date, poker could well be the biggest problem, partly because it was previously shrouded in secrecy," the counselor said.

Tapper acknowledged that the increasing popularity of online poker translates to more problem gambling cases, but he insisted that this shouldn't keep the millions of other players who log on and play within their limitations from enjoying a good time.

He added that Ladbrokes takes problem gambling seriously and has addressed the issue by posting banner links to the Web site of Gamcare, a U.K.-based agency that helps problem gamblers. Additionally, Ladbrokes' Web sites offer information on how to spot problem gambling.

Ladbrokes: 'Poker Is on the Rise' is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith