Betfair Poker has finally decided to bag up its chips for good in New Jersey. The site shut down on December 1, becoming the second operation, after Ultimate Gaming, to withdraw from the market, citing poor performance.
The real surprise here is not that the poker site has closed, but that anyone noticed.
In contrast with its online casino, which has enjoyed reasonably good results, Betfair Poker has failed to gain any real traction at all since its launch at the end of 2013, and has been practically dormant now for months.
According to tax returns filed with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE), the company posted $0 (yes, nada, nothing, zilch) in poker rake in October 2014, that’s down one percent from the single dollar it earned in September. Market leader Party/Borgata, meanwhile, regularly reports online poker revenue of around $1 million per month.
In fact, Betfair’s New Jersey’s poker rake during the first 10 months of 2014 was a paltry $50 in total. This, despite the fact that it offered one of the most generous bonus schemes on the market: a sign-up promotion equivalent to 40 percent rakeback and a VIP program with a top tier of 20 percent rakeback. Its casino operations in New Jersey are far more robust, with reported revenue of $856,000 in October, and its online casino will be staying put.
It’s been a rocky road in the US for the UK-based betting exchange. Under New Jersey gaming law, online operators must be allied with existing land-based licensees in order to enter the market, and Betfair’s first choice of partner, Trump Plaza, was unfortunate. The closure of the Plaza left Betfair temporarily in the lurch until the DGE confirmed that the company would be permitted to continue its relationship with Trump Entertainment and partner with the Trump Taj Mahal.
However, within weeks it was announced that theÂ property would be closing also and once again Betfair found itself all dressed up with nowhere to go. The company has since been granted a transactional waiver from the DGE, valid for six months, which allows it to host its servers from Caesars under a Data Center Sublicense.
However, despite the hiccups in New Jersey, Betfair’s global outlook couldn’t be rosier, according to figures released this week.
Following a 51 percent rise in half-yearly earnings, the company is planning a cash return of Â£200 million ($313 million) to its shareholders. It reported core earnings of Â£73.9 million for the period, citing strong customer base growth, the soccer World Cup and a string of favorable sports results as factors.
Shares in Betfair on the London Stock Exchange, which are already up 27 percent so far this year, closed on Wednesday at Â£13.68, valuing the business at Â£1.44 billion ($2.25 billion).