PokerStarsNJ has officially toppled Party-Borgata as leader in the regulated New Jersey online poker market, as many had predicted.
According to figures released this week by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), the Internet poker giant, which operates in New Jersey in partnership with Resorts Casino Hotel, recorded $1.18 million in revenues for poker in April, more than doubling its haul for March. Party-Borgata, meanwhile, took in just $745,000 for online poker.
PokerStars launched fully in New Jersey on March 21, and quickly surpassed its competitors on its first day, when traffic at all tables topped the 1,000 mark. Since then, it has maintained a narrow liquidity lead on Party-Borgata, according to industry number-cruncher PokerScout.com.
But with Party-Borgata having enjoyed 20 extra days of operation in March, it was difficult to see what kind of gap was opening up between the two operators. But April figures reveal PokerStars’ lead to be considerable, at around 36 percent.
It seems the market overall is benefitting, as well. Combined online poker revenue for all operators was up 30.4 percent over last April, to $2.6 million. But is PokerStars cannibalizing at least some of its competitors in the poker vertical? That may explain why, as the market grew, the poker sites operated by Caesars and 888 were down by one-fifth from the previous month.
In terms of overall gaming revenue, including Internet casino intake, New Jersey witnessed its fourth consecutive record-setting month. Total online revenue was up almost 34 percent from the same period last year, to $17 million.
Party-Borgata still leads the pack when you factor in online casino monies, but only just, bringing in $4 million in total revenue for the month, with PokerStars snapping at its heels with $3.5 million.
While things are looking good for PokerStars in New Jersey, there may be dark clouds on the horizon. The DGE recently clarified its position on operators who engage with black and gray markets throughout the world.
Black markets, said the DGE, were unacceptable. These are countries whose government has passed clear laws that prohibit online gaming.
Gray markets, it acknowledged, were … well, gray. And there are different shades, which means each case would be judged on an individual basis. Insert your “Fifty Shades” jokes here, folks.
While PokerStars is the most licensed operator in the world, it also offers games to residents of Russia, which is a black market, and Australia, which is about to become a black market, due to proposed changes to its gaming laws.
Will PokerStars be forced to choose between these huge markets and its US endeavors, which may be small now, but are part of a very long-term plan?
That would be one tricky decision.