With the pandemic shutting most casino operations nationwide, online poker has increased in popularity. In fact, the amount of first-time online poker players increased by 255% in 2020 alone. Though this can be attributed to ease of access and innovative promotional activities, another factor that contributed to the mass appeal is how easy it is for beginners to learn how to play online poker. The rules are simple, and with many platforms being free to play, like Zynga Poker and Play WSOP, people can hone their skills without using real money.
And with vaccines being rolled out today, physical businesses are slowly opening their doors, and poker rooms are expected to make a comeback. Already, big establishments throughout the country like Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay and Pennsylvania’s Rivers Casino are seeing a surge in visitors.
This all being said, it’s no surprise, then, that poker companies are not only experiencing a boom in popularity but also in share prices. We discuss some notable successes below.
888 Holdings PLC
888 Holdings hosts multiple sites, including 888Poker. The company particularly prides itself on owning and developing its own technology, allowing them to create a diverse and innovative product line. Most notably, it offers B2B products that utilize deep data expertise to quickly and efficiently help online casino businesses make data-driven corporate decisions and marketing campaigns. Meanwhile, its B2C products, like 888Poker, are fitted with stringent security features that help users play safely and responsibly.
888 made a pre-tax profit of over $57.9 million in the first half of this year, and by early August, its share price increased by 96%, resulting in a total shareholder return of 103%. With multiple states already legalizing online poker and others slated to follow, its long-term forecast is looking bright, as well.
This entertainment company has a long, illustrious history, which began in 1937. Today, it runs over 50 casinos and hotels with a classic, old-school charm that makes them some of the world’s top destinations to play poker in.
Last year, Caesars Entertainment merged with Eldorado Resorts, Inc. to become America’s largest casino and entertainment company with a market capitalization of over $20 billion. Due to the ongoing rebound in travel and leisure spending, Caesars reported a 100% increase in share price last month. This trend of recovery is only expected to continue, and this stock is expected to perform well in the future.
International Game Technology (IGT)
You may be familiar with IGT’s slots machines, but the company actually built its success on video poker. IGT founder Si Redd, also known as the Father of Video Poker, patented the technology in 1979, and it became a wildly popular casino addition by the 1980s thanks to its simplicity, high payback percentage, and fast-paced nature. Today, there are thousands of game variations available, with modern technology allowing for the creation of the Advanced Video Platform (AVP).
AVP provides floor managers not only with remotely accessible management and analytics tools but also an EZ-setup feature that saves time and reduces errors on machine setup.
At the end of Q2 2021, IGT reported an earnings-per-share profit of $1.49, exceeding the expected amount of $0.23. With physical casinos recovering from last year’s pandemic slump, video poker is back in the game, and it’s likely that stock performance will improve toward the end of the year.
This growing video game company, which introduced the world to favorites like FarmVille and Words with Friends, is bringing poker to the lucrative mobile gaming market with its app Zynga Poker. Zynga’s stock has more than tripled in value since CEO Frank Gibeau took over in 2016, and Zynga Poker is a huge driver of the company’s performance. This is because Zynga Poker, which is one of the largest online poker sites in the world, is available on a vast array of platforms, including Android, iOS, Windows, Facebook, and even Google+.
With reports showing that mobile gaming comprised of half of all gaming in 2020, the app’s popularity only grew, and it gave Zynga the best Q2 bookings it’s had in over 9 years. Thanks to future initiatives in hyper-casual gaming and international expansion, Zynga’s long-term trajectory is expected to keep rising.
If you’re a poker enthusiast looking for a good business to invest in, these companies are a good place to begin. All are thriving due to their ability to change with the times. Many are even keeping players on their toes by continually enhancing the poker experience — whether that’s online or offline.
As always, however, it’s best to seek the advice of financial advisers when stocks are flying high. This way, you’ll be making research-driven decisions that promise significant ROI.