Under COVID-19, the future of poker tournaments is online

Battle of Malta cancellation: organisers remain committed to hosting the tournament

COVID-19 restrictions have had a drastic effect on the country’s economy but one industry that has managed to thrive is iGaming, and the introduction of online poker in particular.

With physical casinos temporarily out of action and gamers spending more time in their homes, online casinos have witnessed a sharp rise in revenue which has helped to offset their losses from brick and mortar operations ceasing.

Google searches for online casinos in Malta have reached record highs recently, with people being forced online in order to play slots, table games and poker.

This upsurge is much needed with the future of Maltese poker looking gloomy during the peak of the pandemic. Malta has always been a thriving hub for poker and players were devastated when the Siege of Malta festival was cancelled back in March. The competition was set to take place in April and would have featured a €500k main event as well as a host of smaller matches.

“Due to grave concerns about the outbreak of coronavirus, and following health guidance from organisations such as the Maltese Health Authorities and the World Health Organisation, we have reluctantly decided to cancel the new Siege of Malta tournament in April,” a tournament spokesman said at the time.

“In addition to wanting to protect all our players and staff, we also wish to take a responsible stance in helping to contain the virus. In common with many, many other organisers of public events, we are erring on the side of caution and common sense in taking the decision to cancel.“

Organised by the same company that hosts the world renowned Battle of Malta, that flagship tournament could also be under threat as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on the gambling industry. The Battle has been held every year since 2014 and features an exciting €1,000,000 final. Aside from the main event, there’s plenty for low-mid ranking players to enjoy in what is always one of the highlights of the poker calendar. 

While the organisers remain committed to hosting the tournament, they may not get the go ahead from the Maltese government while coronavirus is still present in the country.

One potential solution could be hosting the tournament online. This could be the future of all poker tournaments over the next year or so as operators look to adapt and take advantage of the players that have swarmed the internet since the pandemic began.