Good Signs: PokerStars Beefs Up PACOOP As Michigan Adds Online Poker

Sean Chaffin December 11, 2019 2493 Reads
PokerStars recently added to its PACOOP guarantees and Michigan moved toward legalizing online poker.

Pennsylvania online poker already seems to be off and running – with some big results. That certainly had some repercussions for the PokerStars Pennsylvania Championships of Online Poker (PACOOP) last week.

The first major online poker tournament series in the state boasted 50 events and a $1 million guarantee; however, after a successful first weekend, that was boosted $125,000 last week.

PokerStars then followed that up with another increase to a total of $1.225 million.

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“Our average guaranteed clearance and overall performance of this first-of-its-kind poker tournament for Pennsylvania players has exceeded our initial expectations,” Fox Bet US President Matt Primeaux said.

That and some movement in other states have added some forward momentum to the US online poker scene.

Positive trend for the PA online poker market

The PACOOP trend might show some of what players can expect in the Keystone State. Most events have met their guarantees, with only six tournaments producing an overlay.

PACOOP includes a variety of tournaments with buy-ins ranging from $30 to $750. Plenty of events remain on the schedule this week with action culminating on Monday, Dec. 16.

The first weekend of play saw big fields exceeding guarantees. However, on Sunday, four events missed their guarantees.

As the series plays out, PokerStars may be using PACOOP as a learning experience to determine which events work best in the market. The platform can fine-tune tournaments offered and the number of entries based on demand.

One of those remaining includes the $300 Main Event, set for Sunday. The two-day event features a $100,000 guarantee. It will be interesting to see how the tournament plays out in regards to entries and if the guarantee is met.

WSOP.com and partypoker are also believed to be seeking licenses in Pennsylvania. When and if those sites launch, it will be interesting to see the ramifications in the market.

However, representatives from both companies told USPoker.com there is no news yet to report. For now, PokerStars keeps its head start in the market.

A quick look at the New Jersey market

With most PACOOP meeting guarantees and major Sunday participation, online poker in the US may be moving in a positive direction. 

In New Jersey, online poker has stagnated but shown some small gains in recent months. However, PokerStars was the only operator showing growth in the month ending Oct. 19.

PokerStars saw a 12% increase in rake from $501,000 to $559,000, according to PokerFuse.com. That corresponded with the site’s NJCOOP series.

Caesars/WSOP.com remains the market leader and regularly posts rake numbers in the $600,000 to $800,000 range. That was highlighted in June by an $862,000 month and then $816,000 in July.

WSOP.com benefits from a shared liquidity market with New Jersey and Delaware. The ability of New Jersey players to participate in bracelet events adds to its numbers.

Borgata/partypoker has remained in third for much of 2019. Its rake is typically in the $300,000 to $500,000 range.

Clearing up the Wire Act could offer some help for the Garden State, with additional shared liquidity possible. That doesn’t look to happen until sometime in 2020.

Michigan and other states showing online poker movement

With Pennsylvania now the fourth state with legalized online poker, more good news came this week for players.

According to Online Poker Report, Michigan lawmakers have no reached an agreement to legalize online gambling. That would also include poker.

“This was a very difficult process,”  Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. said, “so I’m really happy to be able to get it this far and excited for the voting the next two days.”

Commercial and Indian casinos would be allowed to offer online gaming under the plan. The bill was expected to pass the House and Senate this week. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is expected to sign the legislation.

There is no timetable yet on when online gambling might launch in the Wolverine State.

It appears Kentucky may also offer some hope as another online poker state. Rep. Adam Koenig attempted to make it happen in the spring with a bill legalizing online poker and sports betting.

The bill never passed, but Online Poker Report notes that it may have a better shot in 2020, a budget year. Gov. Andy Beshear is an ally and expressed support for online gaming when he served as attorney general.

Another state, West Virginia, legalized online gambling and poker in 2019. With a small population, however, shared liquidity may be vital to its success.

While sports betting has been faster at finding state legalization, it may help online poker in the long run. Many in the industry feel states legalizing sports betting may eventually add poker to the mix.

That approach remains to be seen, but there are some signs the poker pie may be growing.

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