Playing Poker Online During Lockdown? Turns Out You Are Not Alone
An attendee handles cards on a poker table in Macau, China. (Photographer: Paul Yeung/Bloomberg)

Playing Poker Online During Lockdown? Turns Out You Are Not Alone

Coronavirus has left many people uncertain about their economic future. It’s also given some of them an appetite for playing poker.

Flutter Entertainment Plc said a surge in online gambling helped to push sales up 22% in the first half of 2020. Average daily gaming customers grew 70% at its PokerStars division in the second quarter, when economies were frozen by lockdowns.

People stuck at home “rediscovered their love of poker,” Chief Executive Officer Peter Jackson told reporters after Flutter’s first results since its merger with the Stars Group in May. Much of the betting was “small,” at about 10 pounds ($13) a week, making it a “low-cost form of entertainment,” he said.

The world’s biggest gambling company intervened far more often to discourage risky behavior in response to the boom in online gaming and the prospect of tighter regulation. The company “dramatically stepped up the number of interventions,” Jackson said. At its Sky Betting and Gaming division, it sent more than 700,000 warnings to players about their deposit limits.

The online surge was driven partly by the cancellation of major sporting events. Jackson said the pandemic means the outlook is still “highly uncertain” and Flutter expects to make a loss in the U.S. this year.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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