Coronavirus: Are Poker Markets Catching a Cold?

The effects of the global Coronavirus outbreak are now being felt in the online gaming and poker communities.

Coronavirus has had a hugely detrimental effect on various markets, and the online gaming industry is no exception. With poker players anxious that the WSOP will be cancelled and software developers anticipating a drop in profits, the global outbreak of coronavirus is becoming a cause for concern among in the gaming world.

Poker Tournament Cancellations

Last month, the Triton Poker Super High Roller series was cancelled, shortly after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that coronavirus was now a “public health emergency”.

The event was scheduled to take place from February 10th to February 12th in Jeju, South Korea and 12 tournaments were due to take place. The organizers of the event issued an official statement, declaring its commitment to the safety of its players and support staff.

A month later, there has yet to be any news from Triton Poker about new dates for the event. As the outbreak continues to spread, it’s unlikely that any dates will be confirmed.

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There are now concerns that coronavirus could lead to the cancellation of the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. The event won’t take place until May, but players will need ample notice if there will be any changes to the WSOP schedule. Players come from all over the world, spending thousands of dollars on travel, accommodation and buy-ins.

Still, no official statement has been made. Seth Palansky, VP of Corporate Communications for the WSOP, has stated that the event organizers are monitoring the situation.

Poker Players Taking Bets

In true punter style, poker players across the web are placing bets on whether or not the WSOP will go ahead as planned in light of the coronavirus outbreak. Doug Polk led the charge by posting on Twitter that he would be taking 20:1 bets from anyone who is sure the event will take place.

Many members of the poker community have responded. Liv Boeree anticipates that the “pandemic will near its peak in June”, and believes that there is a 10% to 30% chance that the WSOP will be cancelled.

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Last week, bookmakers opened markets allowing punters to bet on whether or not The Cheltenham Festival would be cancelled. The move was prompted by the British Horseracing Authority putting contingencies in place to reschedule the Festival later in 2020.

Markets have also been launched for the Olympic Games. Odds are 4/6 that the opening ceremony will not take place in Tokyo on the planned date of July 24th, 2020.

Risks for Gaming Software Developers

Most online gaming developers have yet to officially address any concerns that they have about the outbreak of the virus – but Playtech’s recent statement sheds some light. It read:

“The current corona virus (COVID-19) may present potential risks to our key business generating markets such as Asia and Italy. Playtech continues to monitor developments in Asia closely including the negative impact of COVID-19 in February”.

Both Asia and Italy are highly lucrative markets in the gaming world. If coronavirus is anticipated to have a significantly adverse affect on digital gaming in these countries, further spreading of the disease will cause even more gaming operators to experience difficulties.

Last week, global stock markets had their worst week since 2008, the height of the great financial crisis. Investors are worried about the economic impacts of efforts to stop the spread of the virus, as well as people’s changes in behaviour in fear of catching the disease.

The OECD today confirmed that these fears are well placed, estimating that global growth could be halved this year if the outbreak continues to intensify. Not only will people in affected regions be less likely to go out and spend in casinos, but businesses in the industry may be forced to close offices and venues. Overall it seems that. like everyone else, the poker world is not immune from coronavirus.

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