Until late last month, legal online poker really only existed in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware. New Jersey operators struggle to generate $2 million in online poker revenue in the average month. Nevada does about half that in its best months. That’s when poker players from all over the world descend upon the state for the annual World Series of Poker. Plus, Delaware is so small it’s not even worth talking about.
Of course, all three states have now entered into an agreement to allow shared player pools. There are some regulatory hoops that need to be jumped through first. However, the hope is it will ultimately help foster some growth. Tournaments with bigger prize pools and increased action at the cash game tables are the expected result of the agreement. If that doesn’t attract more players to the online game, nothing will.
But the real hope for online poker growth now comes from Pennsylvania. As you’ve probably read right here on this site, Pennsylvania became the fourth state to legalize and regulate online poker late last month. The state passed online poker and gambling legislation as a part of an overall gambling expansion package.
It will take at least a few months for regulators and operators to get their ducks in a row and open up the market. However, when they do, online poker in America may instantly double in size – a projection simply based on the fact the population of Pennsylvania is about the same as New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware combined.
The legislation allows for Pennsylvania to get involved in shared player pool agreements like the one between the other three states with legal online poker. Therefore, the hope is that its entry into the market will be ultimately good for all four states. But once again, there’s a waiting game to be played. Online poker in Pennsylvania will likely need to exist on its own for a little while before it joins the New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware pool.
From unimpressive to something worth watching
Ultimately it will jump in those warm and friendly shared waters. Revenue numbers should go from unimpressive to something worth watching. In particular, for one of the games most popular and enduring brands, it appears poised to become the US online poker market leader, if and when it becomes something worth leading.
The WSOP will soon reach its 50th anniversary. As a live event, it is still growing every year.
WSOP Nevada is already the only real game in town when it comes to online poker in Nevada. It was also the first the first to have shared player pools when WSOP Nevada joined with software partner 888 Poker in Delaware in 2015.
WSOP NJ may not be the market leader in New Jersey right now. However, it is the only site in a position to take advantage of the state signing on to the shared player pool agreement with Nevada and Delaware right out of the gate. As a result, its likely only a matter of time before WSOP moves ahead of the competition.
WSOP PA coming soon
In Pennsylvania, parent company Caesars Entertainment owns and operates Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack. As a result, Harrah’s is a good bet to apply for one of the first online poker licenses in the state and roll out WSOP PA. No doubt they’ll be ready to go if and when Pennsylvania wants to allow shared player pools as well.
The WSOP software has never been the best in the business. However, the online poker site’s connection to the biggest name in live tournament poker certainly is. Just this year they went from one to three WSOP bracelet events online and rolled out a huge satellite program for WSOP events that was widely considered a success.
The reality is the future of online poker in America remains uncertain. But it’s hard not to think it’s going to grow, and it would be a surprise if WSOP is not the name on top of it.