Internet poker has seen high growth in Eastern Europe, South America, and Asia since the mid-2000s, according to a new study published by PokerStars. Since 2010, China, South Korea, Russia, and countries of the former Soviet Union are identified as having the highest rates of growth in Texas Hold’em.
South America (including Brazil and Peru), Western and Central Europe, and New Zealand are also producing high participation rates, according to the Internet gaming site.
Not surprisingly, North America is seeing some of the lowest growth rates out of any country. In April 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice shut down online poker sites operating within the United States, which caused many American professional poker players to establish residence in Canada, the Caribbean, Europe, Macau, and Australia.
Canada and Mexico are also seeing low participation rates in Texas Hold’em. Many expected Canada to have a boom in online poker since the shutdown in the U.S. However, Canadian players seem to prefer playing in brick-and-mortar casinos than wagering on the Internet.
The Middle East has the lowest growth rate of any region since gambling is outlawed by most Islamic regimes.
Texas Hold’em has grown into a global game. The card game was largely played at homes in the East Coast during the early Twentieth Century and was originally known as “Hold Me”. However, slang interpretations of the moniker eventually led to its modern name.
Several states in the U.S., including California, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, and Mississippi, are currently seeing efforts by local legislators to pass legislation that would legalize Internet gambling.
Nevada became the first state to legalize online poker. Internet sites such as Ultimate Poker, which averages about 200 players a day, continue to struggle in getting new players to sign up for accounts. Nevada has awarded online gaming licenses to nearly 30 companies.
PokerStars, which is based in the Isle of Man near England, “commissioned a heat map to track that year-on-year growth to show when and where poker exploded onto the scene . . . . North America is still enjoying a rapid rise in 2006 in the years following [Chris] Moneymaker’s momentous [World Series of Poker] win. The growth continues, but just not at the same rate, while other regions and countries, such as Eastern Europe, Russia and Brazil pick up the baton.”
Texas Hold’em has grown in popularity among Korean, Chinese, and Filipino players. The card game has also helped to make Macau a gambling hub nearly three times larger than Las Vegas in terms of annual revenue.