Is online poker dying in the U.S.?
The revenue numbers in New Jersey certainly suggest it may very well be. Although, some operators are trying everything they can to dig up the body and revive it.
In February, the shortest month of the year, New Jersey online gambling sites pulled in a record $21,992,124 in revenue. However, online poker represented just $1,772,988 of it.
Online gambling revenue numbers were up almost 18 percent over the same month last year. However, online poker numbers dropped more than 18 percent from February 2017.
The numbers were bad and the optics were worse. New Jersey online gambling continues to prove itself a great success. Online poker simply isn’t playing along.
PokerStars NJ leads the sagging market
PokerStars‘ NJ product continues to lead the sagging market. It pulled in just under $700,000 in revenue last month, representing an almost 40 percent market share. However, the numbers can’t be anywhere near what the world’s largest online poker site was expecting when it returned to the US market after a five-year hiatus in the Spring of 2016.
PokerStars has earned a worldwide reputation as the top site for online tournaments. It runs the biggest weekly tournaments and seasonal series in the industry. It regularly meets and exceeds even the loftiest guarantees. Except in New Jersey, where overlays have become a regular occurrence.
In fact, last month PokerStars NJ ran a 28-event Turbo Series online in the Garden State that failed to meet expectations and most of its guarantees.
One step forward, two steps back
The $25,000 guaranteed Main Event drew 382 entries, creating a guarantee smashing $35,000 prize pool. However, close to half of the other events on the schedule failed to draw the number of players needed to meet guaranteed prize pool numbers.
The Winter Series PokerStars NJ rolled out a month earlier ran without overlays. So either the Turbo Series is just a blip on an otherwise rosy looking radar, or its a case of one step forward and two steps back.
Considering the direction overall numbers for online poker in New Jersey have been headed in lately, it’s more likely the latter. Unfortunately, that leaves PokerStars in the unenviable position of having to do something more than just than just lean on its worldwide reputation and roll out the standard tournament series its had success with elsewhere to help grow online poker in the Garden State.
However, with the two live events the company has run in Atlantic City since launch having both fallen flat, exactly what they can do to turn things around remains to be seen.
Hope in the form of a gold ring
Caesars Entertainment‘s online poker network, including 888 Poker and its World Series of Poker-branded site, pulled in $546,736 in revenue in February. Borgata‘s poker sites, including Borgata Poker, partypoker NJ and the new playMGM Poker, pulled in $532,936.
However, WSOP.com will be attempting something new to try and spur growth in March.
The $365 buy-in tournament is set for March 18 and the hope is it will draw at least the kind of numbers a similar event just did in Nevada last month.
The first ever online World Series of Poker Circuit gold ring event drew 420 entries on WSOP.com Nevada in February, creating a $137,760 prize pool.
The WSOP’s online bracelet events
The WSOP’s online bracelet events have clearly proven to be some of the most successful tournaments in the history of legal and regulated online poker in the US.
The first $1,000 buy-in event in 2015 that Spinella won drew 905 players, creating an $859,750 prize pool. The next year it drew 1,247 entries and the prize pool cracked seven figures. In 2017, the $1,000 event drew 1,312 and the prize pool reached an even healthier $1,246,400.
Plus, WSOP.com ran two more bracelet events. It’s $333 buy-in event drew 2,509, creating a $752,700 prize pool. Plus, the $3,333 high roller drew 424 entries, creating a record-setting $1,335,600 prize pool.
These are the kind of numbers New Jersey operators would kill for.
Now the WSOP.com is preparing to run four bracelet events online during the WSOP this year. Plus, they’re getting ready to run this online WSOPC ring event in New Jersey this weekend. And the hope is, these are the kind of events that can start to breath some life back into online poker in the Garden State.