Forecasting the Possible Size of the US Online Poker Market With Interstate Compacts 

January 31, 2022
Forecasting the Possible Size of the US Online Poker Market With Interstate Compacts 

The US online poker market continues to show nice revenue numbers and growth over the last two years. However, many players are eagerly awaiting the expansion of interstate compacts.

Currently, WSOP.com is the only operator with shared liquidity among Nevada, New Jersey, and with 888poker in Delaware. But with more states joining the online poker bandwagon, interstate compacts offer the best shot at seeing even bigger numbers of players and larger prize pools.

USPoker took a look at the US online poker landscape and where it may be headed if shared liquidity becomes the norm.

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How big could the US online poker market get?

Currently there are five American states offering legal, regulated online poker. Those states and their populations include:

  • Nevada (3.1 million)
  • New Jersey (8.9 million)
  • Pennsylvania (12.8 million)
  • Michigan (10 million)
  • Delaware (1 million)

Additionally, West Virginia (1.8 million) and Connecticut (3.6 million) have also legalized online poker. However, no operators have launched in those states yet. When added up, all these legalized online poker states total about 41.2 million people.

That could certainly create a large pool of players. Interstate compacts are the hope for future expansion in the US. Currently, all other operators function in ringed-in environments, meaning those players only play others within that state.

The Biden administration showed no interest in appealing the Wire Act ruling in 2021, clearing the way for possible expansion.

Other states, such as Illinois, have also shown some interest in allowing online gaming, including poker. Certainly poker has been slow to be accepted compared to sports betting. But many are hoping 2022 brings more good news for the industry.

How could online poker in the US compare to global markets?

The idea of the US getting some sort of federal online poker legislation is a pipe dream. But the continued state-by-state approach mixed with interstate compacts offers the opportunity for the next best-thing to big-time online poker not seen in the US since before Black Friday.

When considering how large that could actually be, taking a look at some state traffic numbers might offer some insight. PokerScout’s World Online Poker Traffic Report offers a look at sites from around the world.

The seven-day average offers a snapshot look at various sites. International heavyweights like PokerStars (1) and GGPoker (2) checked in on Monday with 6,600 and 6,400 players respectively.

Reaching those kinds of totals probably isn’t in the cards. But how could US operators stack up? Here’s a look at those seven-day averages of the US-based platforms:

OperatorStatesSeven-day player average
* as of Jan. 31, 2022
WSOP.com/888pokerNevada, New Jersey, Delaware260
PokerStarsNew Jersey120
Paretypoker USNew Jersey95
PokerStarsMichigan200
Partypoker US (via BetMGM)Michigan95
PokerStars
Pennsylvania280
WSOP PAPennsylvania65
Partypoker US (via BetMGM)Pennsylvania30
TOTAL1,178

These numbers total an overall seven-day average of about 1,200 players for the entire US market. That doesn’t even include the likely additions of Connecticut and West Virginia to any compacts.

When considered as an overall market as a whole, that would place the entire US market somewhere in the top 10 according to PokerScout. By comparison, 888poker’s international site averaged 950 players over the same time period.

Here’s how individual operators would look if all current states had shared liquidity among them.

Obviously, PokerStars would be the top US online poker operator in the US with a seven-day average of 600 players. WSOP/888 moves to 325 players with the addition of its own ringed-in market of Pennsylvania to its Nevada/New Jersey/Delaware group. Partypoker finished in third with 220 players.

Those 600 players would find PokerStars USA sitting as the 12th-largest site in the world, just behind its Italian platform. That site is a ringed-in market solely for Italian players. WSOP.com would remain in the top 20 with those numbers as well. 

What’s ahead?

The point of all this is that a combined US market offers a real chance at growth. Adding Connecticut and West Virginia edges these numbers up even more.

Legalization in larger states like Illinois and New York grows that pie even more. It’s been slow going, but the US market has gained some real traction in recent years.

Major operators like PokerStars and partypoker still obviously view the US as an opportunity for growth in the industry. GGPoker has even made some overtures about possibly expanding into the US.

As more states legalize mobile sports betting, the thinking is that they may also add on online poker and gaming at some point as well. That remains to be seen, but many players are hoping that prediction comes true.

These individual state numbers could see some growth as well from interstate compacts. Players may be more willing to jump in the action after seeing rising prize pools and bigger events.

The addition of interstate compacts would certainly help as well and perhaps 2022 is the year for those expansion plans. In the meantime, players are stuck in a waiting game.

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