US Online Poker in a Slump

October 18th, 2015 | by Brian Corlisse

New Jersey online poker revenue downswing.

New Jersey and Delaware continue to struggle with their online poker platforms. (Image: convenantgrove.org)

Online poker players in New Jersey might be waiting for the return of PokerStars like the prodigal son, but the market doesn’t have the luxury of waiting; even though it may wish it could.

Ever since iGaming was regulated in the Garden State back in 2013 the online poker economy has struggled to gain any real traction.

Although there has been a steady incline among the leading operators, poker has struggled to generate the revenue expected. Moreover, when compared to the casino axis of New Jersey’s iGaming market, it’s clear that poker is going through a tough patch.

Poker Struggling to Bloom in Garden State

This fact was highlighted once again this week after the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) released its latest revenue report. According to the stats, the Garden State’s operators pulled in $12 million in September 2015.

When compared to September 2014, that figure represents a 17.3 percent increase year-on-year; however, compared to revenue in August, the numbers were down by around $200,000. What’s even more concerning for the states iGaming platforms is that poker accounted for a small percentage of the overall revenue.

While casino games raked in $10 million during September, poker contributed just under $1.8 million to the overall haul. This discrepancy has been something New Jersey has failed to address ever since it started offering iGaming and it doesn’t look as though things are moving forward.

One glimmer of hope for the state, however, is the pending launch of PokerStars. Aside from offering a strong infrastructure, the PokerStars brand still has some influence in the US.

However, with liquidity and game selection still a problem, it’s unclear whether PokerStars can perform to its full potential.

While many still believe PokerStars can spark a mini-boom and push New Jersey online poker to new heights, it’s certainly not going to be an easy task.

Delaware’s Disastrous September

In fact, a look at the recent results for another US iGaming state, Delaware, show that poker is facing just as much of a struggle there.

Revealed in the latest revenue report, Delaware’s iGaming community generated just $156,125 in revenue during September, 2015.

Of that figure, online poker contributed just $24,523 which is the state’s lowest total since iGaming was regulated in November, 2013.

In addition to being disappointingly low, the situation appears to be even more disastrous given that Delaware shares low stakes player pools with Nevada.

It was hoped that by sharing players across sites controlled by 888 Holdings that both states would improve their liquidity and, therefore, revenues.

However, despite an initial burst of activity, traffic appears to have faded; a situation which has, once again, raised questions over the viability of state regulation.

Although PokerStars will likely provide a boost to New Jersey’s iGaming economy, it’s clear from the latest results in Delaware that mini-innovations only lead to temporary booms and if either state is to improve its fortunes then wholesale changes are needed.

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