PANDEMIC POKER: US Online Numbers Dip But Remain Historically Strong

Anthony Cicali III September 18, 2020
The US online poker market saw revenue declines in August, but remains strong year over year.

With casinos reopening and more people back to work, is the end of the poker pandemic boom near? That appears to be so, with a significant drop in New Jersey and slight decrease in Pennsylvania.

However, the big picture year-over-year outlooks still show much stronger revenue for the legal US online poker market. Some live poker tournaments have begun slowly returning, but many players are still heading online.

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New Jersey online poker takes sharp dip, but that’s not the whole story

The New Jersey online poker curve has begun to flatten, seeing big revenue drops in August. NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE) revenue reports showed poker operators brought in $3.1 million in August. That’s down 37% from the $4.8 million in July.

However, that’s not the whole story. Year over year, online poker is up 77% from the same time in 2019.

WSOP.com was the top gun again in August by totaling $1.3 million in revenue. However, this is less than half of July revenue. The operator shares liquidity with Nevada and with 888poker in Delaware, is closing out a big summer from the success of the WSOP Online bracelet events.

PokerStars NJ dipped under the million-dollar mark totaling $971,811. This was down from $1.1 million in July. Despite that, the site has shown continued growth year over year. 

Partypoker (along with the BorgataPoker.com and BetMGM skins) took a small hit as well in August. Partypoker reported $750,126 in the last month of the summer.

The company may see a boost in September. Party has joined forces with the WPT for the Online Borgata Series. The two powerhouses are finishing up the series and have seen big prize pools so far.

In early July, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) allowed for the reopening of Atlantic City casinos. However, live poker rooms remain closed in NJ. A June 30 protocol outlined that poker tables could only open up four-handed.

Casinos and players are awaiting an update for more players at the table. 

NJ online casinos break records yet again

Despite the downturn in online poker, plenty of NJ players were heading online to gamble. Brick and mortar casinos have been open all summer, but online casino games are still hot.

The state beat its own record from a month prior and brought in $87.7 million. This was a 0.3% gain month over month and up 113% year over year.

That led to total gaming taxes of $32.4 million in August. Total gaming taxes represented 8% of taxable casino gross revenue and 15% of Internet gaming gross revenue.

PA online poker numbers hold strong

Despite recent news that partypoker was close to launching in PA, PokerStars remains the only real money poker site in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) reported that PokerStars (partnered with Mount Airy Casino) reported $2.7 million in revenue.

This is a small drop from the $2.9 million reported in July, but overall revenue remains strong. The recently-announced PokerStars Pennsylvania Championship of Online Poker (PACOOP) should help September numbers.

State tax on online poker is 14% in Pennsylvania. The people of the commonwealth benefited from this tax that raked in $382,088 for August.

Players are still waiting for the launch of WSOP.com and partypoker. The PGCB has yet to grant approval for those operators in the Keystone State.

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All live casinos in  Pennsylvania continue to reopen, but all PA poker rooms remain closed. Despite games like live Blackjack and Roulette open to the public, the PGCB hasn’t allowed poker rooms to reopen yet.

The state’s poker players recently received some more bad news. Despite a 2019 renovation, Harrah’s Philadelphia notified employees that the poker room would be closed for good.

Revenue falls slightly in Delaware

Delaware online poker revenue decreased more than 10% month over month in August. Delaware Lottery gaming numbers showed poker brought in $54,584 – down from $62,603 in July.

Online poker in Delaware runs on the 888poker platform. The company runs three shared player pools through:

  • Delaware Park
  • Dover Downs
  • Harrington Casinos. 

Brick and mortar casinos are still in Phase 2 of Gov. John Carney’s (D) economic reopening plan. This allows for casinos to open at limited hours and 60% occupancy. Under this order, live poker rooms remained closed.

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