When Will PokerStars Find Its Floor In The New Jersey Online Poker Market?

Dustin Gouker September 9, 2016 1275 Reads
Yellow Parachute

PokerStars trailed its competitors in getting into the New Jersey online poker market by more than two years.

Still, conventional wisdom said that PokerStars, even with the late start after its spring 2016 launch, would be able to make up ground quickly and perhaps own the market.

Its brand recognition in the US and its status as the biggest online poker operator in the world was the logic behind this thinking.

It did so for a brief time after going live, taking a dominant piece of the marketshare off the bat. But as summer turns to fall, it’s becoming apparent PokerStars is not the 800-pound gorilla some feared; at least not right now.

Things have cooled off for PokerStars NJ

PokerStars had its soft launch in March; by April, it had taken nearly half of the online poker revenue generated in the state. That month also saw online poker hit a two-year high in NJ.

This part went according to script, but soon the plot in New Jersey took a turn. After just a month, it was clear the novelty of PokerStars’ return to a regulated US online poker market had worn off.

The revenue for PokerStars eroded over the summer — although it still led the three NJ poker networks at last check. But hopes that PokerStars’ return would meaningfully expand the NJ market have pretty much disappeared.

The WSOP NJ / 888 NJ and PartyPoker / Borgata networks were both within striking distance the last time NJ revenue numbers were announced.

Where are things now for PokerStars and the rest of NJ?

According to tracking data from PokerScout and PokerIndustry Pro (paywall), the WSOP/888 network (140 cash-game players on a seven-day average) now far outpaces PokerStars (under 100 cash-game players).

Some of that comes from aggressive promotions; at WSOP, the bonus is currently 100 percent up to $400 with a deposit. (WSOP Nevada is offering the same promotion.)

Of course, the entire picture isn’t captured by cash-game traffic — PokerStars’ Spin & Go offering generates a lot of revenue and attracts a lot of players that aren’t in the traffic numbers. But still, it’s relatively shocking to see one network that far ahead in cash-game players, just a few months after PokerStars’ launch.

Where is the floor for PokerStars?

It appears the floor for PokerStars traffic and revenue may have been established in July or August, or perhaps it will come in September. We’ll have a better idea after the August numbers come out next week.

By October, the New Jersey Championship of Online Poker will be going on at PokerStars, and likely attracting lots of players to the virtual felt. That could create a new influx of players and money to the site that hasn’t been seen since launch.

Some observers thought PokerStars’ entry into New Jersey would be a blowout victory for the new kid on the block. Now, there’s a legitimate three-way race for online poker in NJ that few saw coming. (The late start for PokerStars in NJ and ensuing issues makes it clear why it would not tolerate legislation that would make it sit out for any amount of time in California.)

For now, we have to wait until the floor is established for PokerStars NJ before we can start to tell how the NJ online poker market will shake out.

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