NJ Online Poker Looking More Like A Bust Than Another Boom

Martin Derbyshire October 19, 2018 1084 Reads
New Jersey

New Jersey online poker revenue numbers have never been all that impressive. But despite the first-ever online World Series of Poker Circuit series and another vaunted PokerStars tournament series being held online on the Garden State last month, those numbers looked as bad as they ever have.

Overall, NJ online gambling revenues came close to a record high, with $25.75 million in September revenue posted. That number was actually up more than 26 percent over the same month last year.

Record-breaking NJ online casino numbers

NJ online casinos did their part, posting a record $24,142,472 in revenue. In fact, September marked the ninth consecutive month NJ online casino revenue exceeded $20 million.

However, online poker continued to disappoint, with just $1.6 million in revenue recorded. September online poker revenues were down 8.4 from August and 15.4 percent from the same month last year. In fact, it was the lowest monthly revenue number for NJ online poker since its very first, back in November 2013.

New Jersey signing on to the multi-state agreement allowing sites to share online poker player pools with others in Nevada and Delaware was supposed to be a game changer. But since The WSOP/888 Poker network is the only one with sites in all three states, it’s the only one reaping the benefits.

The Caesars Entertainment network did manage to post $671,315 in revenue in September, moving into the top spot in the state with an almost 20 percent jump over September 2017 numbers. However, those same numbers were down almost 5 percent compared to August, despite the network hosting the first-ever WSOP Online Circuit series in September.

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NJ online poker declines across the board

Every online poker site in the state posted month-over-month decreases.

The Borgata network, which includes Borgata, PartyPoker, and MGM – plus, Pala running on its own under Borgata’s license – saw its revenue drop to $399,978, down six percent from August and a whopping 36.77 percent from the same month last year.

PokerStars NJ revenues of $538,696 were down almost 15 percent from August and close to 24 percent compared to September 2017.

Running the PokerStars NJ Championship of Online Poker didn’t help. The two-week 47 event series that offered three $30,000 Platinum Pass packages into the PokerStars Player’s NL Hold’em Championship, was marred by overlays. The two-day Main Event only drew 305 entries, missing its $150,000 guarantee.

2003 WSOP Main Event champ Chris Moneymaker posted two NJCOOP wins, but there are no signs a second coming of the poker boom is imminent.

Unless your in the camp that thinks NJ’s neighbors to the West may spark it.

The second coming of the poker boom

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has already approved the first online poker license applications in that state. The first legal and regulated Pennsylvania online poker sites will launch by the end of 2018 or early 2019.

PA has a population of almost 13 million. This gives it the potential to double the number of people playing online poker in the US. Unfortunately, they won’t be playing together just yet.

PA will launch as a fenced-in market all on its own. There’s language in the law allows for the state to sign interstate compacts. Just like the one between New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware. The only thing is, regulators have made it clear they want to have a look at what they’ve got first.

The US online poker tipping point

Many see PA’s entry into the otherwise growing US-wide online poker market as a tipping point. A time when one of two things might happen. Either the market suddenly becomes large enough to create a jump in tournament prize pool and cash game player numbers. The kind that will attract even more players to the online game. Or, other states will follow PA’s lead and pass online poker legislation of their own, creating a similar uptick.

However, it doesn’t look like PA is going to enter the multi-state online poker market for at least a year.

NJ online poker will just have wait, hoping shiny new legal sports betting doesn’t take away its entire customer base. Or, competing offshore sites that still accept players from all over the world ruin them first.