Industry index shows increase in poker's popularity

A poker industry index yesterday reported a consistent increase in poker's popularity over the first quarter of 2006, showing a 30% growth over the same period last year. Total buy-ins were listed at over $98 million, indicating a 55% growth over the previous 12-month period. Increases are attributed to an expanding player base, which has seen a 15% rise in tournament players over the same period in 2005.

Industry expert, Mark Napolitano, said, "Industry growth is also being helped out by a rising average buy-in per entry. The Average Buy-in per Entry Index for the quarter is 113, showing a growth of 13 percent versus the same quarter last year, with an average buy-in of $1,207 per entry. This also represents a trend with four consecutive months over $1,000."

There was, however, only marginal growth regarding buy-in dollars for March at $33.9 million, a result of a 29% decrease in the number of players competing in the Million $10,000 Main Event combined with a slow month for the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Circuit events.

"With the slowed growth in March it will be important to monitor April, May and June, leading up to the World Series of Poker, to help us determine the overall pace for 2006," said Napolitano.

"Look for the industry to have a strong month in April with the introduction of a new World Poker Tour Event at the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut, as well as their $25,000 championship event later in the month at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Also, watch out for the newly formed International Poker Association's Tour to make a quick impact with its inaugural event in May."

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