Both Nevada and Delaware have seen their online poker traffic increase since the two states started pooling their online poker players on March 25, according to PokerScout.com’s data.
The increase in Delaware has been substantial, as over 150 WSOP.com Nevada players were added to Delaware’s player pool, while the increase in Nevada has been minimal, as Delaware’s networked online poker rooms boasted only ten average cash game players pre-interstate pooling.
But adding the two states’ traffic numbers together doesn’t tell us much of anything. What people really want to know is if the sum of these two poker economies is significantly greater than the two individual parts? And if so, by how much?
The answer to that question will likely play a key role as other states consider entering into interstate online poker agreements.
After one week it appears the jury is still out on this. Numbers are certainly rising, but the rise has been far from pronounced.
Pre-interstate traffic numbers
Prior to the pooling, WSOP.com in Nevada was averaging about 150 cash game players, and the 888-powered online poker rooms in Delaware were averaging less than ten cash game players total. Following the merging of the two player pools, this number has risen to 170, which means the sum is greater than parts since 150+10 is only 160.
This is a slight, but not overly significant increase, particularly if we consider Delaware once averaged 25 cash game players, according to PokerScout.com.
Based on these numbers, the interstate pooling has only attracted about ten additional players between the two states – without seeing the raw data it’s impossible to tell how many players each state is responsible for.
While the increase is small, it should be noted the pooling has only been in place for less than a week.
The increase was expected to come from Delaware
While there is always room for growth, Nevada’s online poker participation rates have lived up to expectations and historical industry standards, with average cash game traffic of 54 per million residents.
Peak participation is considered to be 100 players per million residents, but this has only held true in large liquidity markets, and neither Nevada or Delaware (nor New Jersey for that matter) are large liquidity markets.
On the other hand, Delaware’s participation rates have been abysmal, as the state is averaging just 7 cash game players per million residents. This is a clear sign that the state’s tiny population has been holding the industry back.
It appears Nevada’s near 3 million residents is enough to sustain a modest online poker site, but Delaware’s population of less than 1 million is not enough to support a viable online poker economy by itself – there simply isn’t enough liquidity.
The addition of Nevada’s 150 players is expected to immediately remedy Delaware’s liquidity issues, and the state is expected to reach 30 to 40 players per million residents in short order.
As Ed Sutor, the President and CEO of Dover Downs Hotel and Casino, told Delaware NewsZap, “When you have so few people like you have in the state of Delaware, those games were not available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Sutor said this leads to players abandoning iGaming altogether. Sutor, and many others, feel the addition of Nevada’s online poker pool will be a big enough draw to increase the appeal of Delaware’s online poker industry and perhaps reengage with some of the disillusioned Delawareans who were put off by the lack of games up to this point.
If Sutor is correct, Delaware could see average online poker traffic jump from less than 10 players to 40 or perhaps as high as 50. Based on the early numbers, it appears average cash game traffic has already increased, perhaps by as much as 100 percent, but there is still a long way to go, and if regulated online poker in the U.S. has taught us anything it’s this: Expectations and forecasts can be off. By a lot.