Ring-game traffic continues to decline at dot-com poker rooms in 2015 when compared with the same period in 2014.
According to PokerScout, cash-game traffic for the first quarter of 2015 at dot-com poker rooms declined by 3.4 percent when compared to the first quarter of 2014. While any decline highlights the overall shrinking dot-com poker market, PokerFuse reported that the decrease in traffic is not as steep as last year when the first quarter of 2014 shrunk by eight percent compared to the first quarter of 2013.
Partypoker and the iPoker Network suffered the biggest losses in traffic in the first quarter of 2015 when compared to the first quarter of 2014, with reported declines of 10.5 percent and 10 percent, respectfully. Partypoker has dropped to No. 7 on PokerScout's Online Poker Traffic Report based off a seven-day average of ring-game players.
The iPoker Network, on the other hand, is firmly in third place with a seven-day average of 1,800 ring-game players. However, the network has appeared to have temporarily lost in the back-and-forth battle for second place which 888poker, which now has a solid cushion with 2,800 ring-game players over a seven-day average.
Amaya Gaming's Full Tilt and PokerStars also suffered losses in ring-game traffic in the first quarter of 2015 when compared to the first quarter of 2014. Full Tilt's traffic dropped by 8.5 percent, while the traffic at sister company, PokerStars, dropped by approximately four percent.
The drop for both these sites might be partially attributed to the introduction of lottery-style sit-and-gos, a game that is believed to attract recreational players that might otherwise play ring games. Full Tilt introduced Jackpot tournaments in June 2014, while PokerStars introduced Spin & Go tournaments in October 2014.
It can also be speculated that the drop at PokerStars was partially driven by the site exiting 30 countries in October 2014. Furthermore, it is possible that other PokerStars customers that previously played ring games migrated to casino games after they were first introduced in November 2014.
Regardless of the decline, PokerStars is by far the leader in ring-game traffic with about 18,000 players based off a seven-day average. It doesn't appear the site will lose the top spot anytime soon, and news has been buzzing about the company after statements made about possible entry into the daily fantasy sports industry.
The lone bright spot for the dot-com market is 888poker. While other dot-com poker operators saw declines in traffic, 888poker continued to grow with PokerScout reporting a five-percent increase in traffic for the first quarter of 2015 when compared to the first quarter of 2014.
Whether the ring-game market continues to decline or not for dot-com poker sites is difficult to predict, however, pressure continues to increase from gray-area or unlicensed market sites such as Bodog (No. 4 in the PokerScout rankings) or regional players such as PokerStars.it (sixth place), Georgian-based Adjarabet (eighth place), and French-regulated Winamax (ninth place).