It’s not surprising that Delaware has struggled to create a viable online poker framework. Unlike other forms of gambling, poker really requires a solid player base, and given Delaware’s small population, it was never going to be easy for the state to maintain that on their own. Still, the small number of players had kept revenues reasonably steady this year. At least, until June came around.
Delaware saw its online poker revenues fall by an astounding 55 percent month-over-month in June, dropping from $57,470 in May to just $25,607 in June. That was by far the lowest figure for any month since Delaware rolled out their online gambling framework, as May had marked the previous low for the state.
Each of the three licensed race track casinos in the state (Delaware Park, Dover Downs and Harrington) experienced a similar decline for the month. There are a number of factors that could help account for the drop, including the expected seasonal fall off during the summer and the fact that many high volume players were likely in Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker. But the scope of the drop off was still surprisingly steep, even considering those factors.
Delaware Park remained the dominant force in the online poker sphere, holding on to 62 percent of the market share. Dover Downs collected 30 percent of revenues, leaving just eight percent for Harrington.
When it comes to online poker, expanding player pools is key, and Delaware has been looking to do just that. The state has already signed an agreement with Nevada to share player pools for poker, which could help the situation somewhat once that compact goes into effect. There is no date specified for when that will occur, though it is expected that 888 Poker will be able to link their players pools later this year.
Despite the disappointing poker numbers, June might be seen as a successful month overall for Delaware’s online gambling network. Total revenues were up 7 percent for the month, rising to a total of $187,944. That happened despite the fact that overall wagering on table games was down from May’s record activity.
Another promising sign came in the realm of new player signups. Despite the warm summer weather, 399 new accounts were created on the Delaware gambling sites during June. That may not sound like a lot, but it’s up from 342 new accounts in May, which represents the first increase in player signups since the sites first opened in November.
Delaware isn’t the only state that has seen a drop in online poker revenue this summer. In June, New Jersey’s online poker rooms saw their revenues drop by nearly 10 percent, the third straight month in which their take declined. However, those drops have been less severe than those suffered by Delaware, and there are signs that cash game traffic in the state is still reasonably healthy. This may be due to the fact that New Jersey has a much larger player base, allowing it to absorb seasonal drops without falling below a critical mass of players to support poker sites.