In a clear reversal of fortune, it was the New Jersey online poker industry, and not online casino, that experienced marked gains in August.
The state’s three online poker operators (PokerStars, WSOP / 888, and Party Poker / Borgata) combined to generate $2,173,488 last month, up 8 percent over July, and nearly 10 percent over last year. It was the market’s biggest monthly gain since March, when revenue was artificially inflated by the entry of PokerStars.
On the flip side, NJ online casino revenue took a rare nosedive. After reaching yet another high-water mark in July ($15,356,879), revenue dipped 9.5 percent to $13,900,815. It was the casino arm’s biggest month-over-month drop since February 2015, when the figures were negatively skewed by a $1.5 million table game jackpot.
Online casino revenue was up nearly 36 percent over last August, compared to 44 percent yearly gains in July.
Total industry revenue just skirted by the $16 million barrier ($16,074,303), its lowest total since March 2016, but still significantly higher than in any other month in 2015.
PokerStars reopens sizable lead over WSOP/888
PokerStars posted the industry’s healthiest month-over-month gains. The site generated $865,150 in August, representing its highest monthly tally since May, and a 15 percent increase over July.
WSOP/888 revenue also grew, but by only 8 percent to $699,526. That wouldn’t prove enough to boost the network’s market share, which remained flat at 32 percent. By comparison, PokerStars’ grew its share of the market by three ticks, up from 37 percent to 40 percent.
Party Poker/Borgata continues to stagnate. Revenue was virtually flat in August, climbing 0.1 percent to $608,812. The network’s market share fell from 30 percent to 28 percent.
The month long Card Hunt promotion on PokerStars undoubtedly played a major role in its revenue uptick.
When the promotion launched on August 1, cash game liquidity ballooned. According to PokerScout numbers, 7-day averages were up as high as 137 early in the month, and held well over 100 throughout the promotional period.
Card Hunt was effective at driving players to the Zoom (fast-fold) Poker tables, as Zoom proved the most effective format in which to earn the daily bonus. In the absence of Card Hunt, fast-fold games rarely run on Stars.
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Could September see a changing of the guard?
It’s not completely out of the question. Cash game traffic on PokerStars has been in a downward spiral since September 1, down 18 percent to an average of just 86 players. And with only a minor Spin & Go promotion on the schedule, the site is almost guaranteed to see its revenue margins crash.
WSOP/888 on the other hand, is experiencing an uptick akin to the one Stars underwent in August.
WSOP.com launched a reload promotion that will see players earn a 100 percent deposit match up to $1,000. This promotion has proven exceedingly popular in the past, and is making the grade once again, with traffic climbing 23 percent from August 30 to September 6.
Since, volume on the network has leveled off a bit, but is still holding well above its August average.
Whether or not its growing cash game lead will be enough to offset the revenue PokerStars generates from its money printing machine, Spin & Go’s, is tough to say. Smart money says it won’t, but look for the gap between the two to shrink dramatically.
Looking further, both Party Poker/Borgata and PokerStars could make waves in October, as both are hosting high-profile tournament series.
Poker Industry Pro reported that Party’s GSSS V will be held from October 9 -23, and guarantee over $1.1 million. The first annual PokerStars NJCOOP is slated for October 16-30, and will overlap with a live tournament festival at Resorts AC.