Month after month, the revenue from NJ online casino gambling and sports betting continues to climb. But the opposite is happening with NJ online poker.
With online sports betting & online casinos gaining in popularity, online poker has definitely taken a hit. But how and why?
NJ online poker was already spiraling in 2018
According to Poker-Online, NJ online poker revenue for 2018 totaled approximately $21.3 million. That figure represents a decline in revenue from the previous year of nearly $3 million.
Anonymous Reddit user shares his recent experience:
“I was about to put $50 on and play some tournaments… but the guarantees are so small that it doesn’t even seem worth the time.
What’s the deal? Is Online Poker just dead now?”
Now, with only the last two months of 2019 not yet accounted for, this year’s revenue from online poker will probably amount to even less.
2019 NJ online poker revenue so far
Prior to September, monthly NJ online poker revenue has ranged from $1.67 million to $1.9 million.
Not surprisingly, the state’s online poker revenue registered a small increase in June and July: .7 percent and 2.1 percent over June and July 2018, respectively.
The increase can be attributed to the nine WSOP online bracelet events to which NJ online poker players had access. The reported revenue for June was $1.77 million. The reported revenue for July was only a little shy of $1.9 million.
However, according to the NJ Division of Gambling Enforcement (DGE), in August, the three online poker operators only generated $1.71 million in revenue, representing a 5.9% decline from the figure for August the previous year.
Back in 2017, any month in which NJ online poker revenue did not exceed $2 million would have been considered a lackluster month. However, there has not been one month in 2019 in which online poker revenue has reached the $2 million mark.
Moreover, in September, NJ online poker revenue hit its all-time low for the year of only $1.63 million. The report for October showed only a slight improvement ($1.64 million).
What’s happening to poker in NJ?
Online poker has been operating legally in NJ since November 26, 2013. That is the same length of time as online casinos and nearly five years longer than legalized online sports betting has been an option in the state.
Out of the seven authorized NJ gambling websites, all seven operate at least one site for casino gambling and at least one site directly or indirectly for sports betting.
Yet only three of the seven NJ online gambling operators offer online poker. Those three include the following:
- Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa
- Caesars Interactive Entertainment New Jersey
- Resorts Casino Hotel Atlantic City
That leaves Golden Nugget Hotel Casino, Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Ocean Casino Resort, and Tropicana Casino & Resort Atlantic City all without any affiliated online poker room for NJ players.
Meanwhile, Borgata, Caesars, and Resorts combined to bring the total number of licensed online poker rooms in the state to only seven.
When compared to more than 20 licensed NJ online casinos and nearly that many licensed NJ sportsbooks that are currently operating, it is easy to see why NJ online poker revenue is lagging behind.
The seven NJ poker sites are as follows:
Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa
Caesars Interactive Entertainment New Jersey
Resorts Casino Hotel Atlantic City
Two of the original NJ online poker rooms no longer exist
Apart from PokerStars, which is probably here to stay indefinitely, how many of the six remaining NJ poker sites will be able to survive? That remains to be seen. But clearly, they have their work cut out for them, and for those that trail the field, history does not bode well for the likelihood of a brighter future.
Two of the NJ online poker rooms that had their launch early on folded in 2014. Ultimate Gaming made the poor choice of partnering with the bankrupt Trump Plaza, which reneged on its payments. Affiliation with the highly successful Golden Nugget Atlantic City worked for the Betfair Online Casino but not for the poker room. With virtually zero players during its one year of operation, that room also had no choice but to close.
The impact of the return of PokerStars to the US online market
The PokerStars site for NJ players, which is affiliated with Resorts Casino Hotel Atlantic City, launched with great fanfare in March 2016. The return of PokerStars to the US online gambling market has had both a positive and negative impact on NJ online poker revenue.
PokerStars is the most widely recognized brand of online poker worldwide. So, even though the NJ site is not part of the huge international PokerStars network and is limited to NJ players exclusively, it is no surprise that PokerStars has become the No. 1 NJ online poker room, too.
According to www.playnj.com, on an average day during nonpeak hours, about 100 people will be playing ring games on the site. However, during peak hours (7-9 p.m.), that number increases to about 250-300 players. This is a lot more traffic than any of the other NJ poker sites manage to attract.
On a positive note, the other NJ poker sites have been offering more games, special promotions, and events in an effort to compete with PokerStars. However, as PokerStars continues its dominance, the efforts of its competitors are slacking off.
WSOP.com now offers a combined player pool whereby New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada players can all play against one another. However, the resulting increase in traffic to the NJ site has only been marginal. Accordingly, Caesars has shifted its major focus away from its New Jersey WSOP site onto the Nevada WSOP site. A poorly received software update has not helped.
Meanwhile, online poker is legal in Pennsylvania but not yet available
It is also worth noting that while online poker is now legal in Pennsylvania, the state seems to be in no hurry to get it up and running based on the way online poker is struggling in New Jersey.
Summary and conclusion
In 2014, it became clear that there were more online poker rooms than the NJ market could handle, and two of them folded.
Likewise, the present number of seven could be too many as well. Unless something dramatic happens to generate more traffic and business, the sites that are already on life support have little chance of surviving much longer.