All Can Agree: A NJ / PA Interstate Online Poker Agreement Would Be A Game Changer
Online Poker Report

An Interstate Online Poker Agreement Between PA And NJ? Here’s How It Might Look

PA NJ interstate online poker

There has been an increasing amount of chatter when it comes to a potential interstate agreement between Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

If Pennsylvania passes an online gaming bill, and if New Jersey perceives its westerly neighbor as the first viable online poker partner and enters into an interstate liquidity sharing agreement with Pennsylvania, the U.S. would suddenly have an online poker market drawing from a population pool of 20-25 million.

While there are a lot of “if’s” in the previous paragraph, there is a not-trivial chance that both of these things could come to fruition in 2016.

If they do, here’s what the “PennsylJersey” online poker market could look like.

Liquidity

With a combined population of over 20 million (21.8 million to be precise), the pairing of Pennsylvania and New Jersey would represent the first instance in the short history of legal U.S. online poker where a market has the potential to not only support a prosperous online poker site, but also support an additional one or two viable online poker sites or networks.

I’m defining prosperous online poker site as a site with average cash game traffic of 1,000 players or more, and defining viable online poker site as a site with average cash game traffic of 500 players or more.

Furthermore, several population centers are located just beyond the borders of each state, including New York City, so the true size of the Pennsylvania and New Jersey online poker market could be closer to 25 million.

Based on historical data, the market-wide average cash game traffic potential of New Jersey and Pennsylvania is somewhere between 1,200-2,500 players, with a similar amount of tournament players.

As long as there aren’t too many cooks in the kitchen, and I don’t suspect there will be for the two reasons listed below, the online poker operators in the PennsylJersey market should be able to turn a profit:

  1. The price of entry and high cost of doing business in the online poker industry;
  2. Online casino outperforming online poker by a five- to six-to-one margin in New Jersey.

In fact, I suspect there will only be two to three online poker operators of any consequence spread across the two states (along with a few also-rans mixed in), and those three operators will almost certainly be the ones with a presence in both states.

Likely NJ / PA interstate network partners

bwin.party

This is a tough one to forecast, as bwin.party was recently acquired by GVC and its future in the online gaming industry is somewhat uncertain.

However, assuming it remains in the market, bwin.party is already positioned to form an interstate online poker network in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

In New Jersey, the company has partnered with the state’s crown jewel casino, Borgata, while in Pennsylvania the company has already announced a partnership with an unnamed Pennsylvania casino.

Currently, partypoker operates two online poker sites in New Jersey, a partypoker-branded site and BorgataPoker.com.

In Pennsylvania, there would also likely be a partypoker-branded room and also a MysteryCasinoPoker.com site.

888

888 is the best-positioned of all online poker providers.

The company is partnered with Caesars in New Jersey and has already announced a partnership with the Mount Airy Casino in Pennsylvania. 888 is also expected, although nothing official has been announced, to enter into an iGaming partnership with the Caesars-owned Harrah’s Philadelphia casino in Pennsylvania.

In New Jersey, 888 has two online poker sites, an 888-branded room and WSOP.com.

In Pennsylvania, 888 would likely have three websites: MountAiryPoker.com (or something along those lines), WSOP.com, and an 888-branded poker site.

PokerStars

PokerStars is partnered with Resorts Casino in New Jersey, and currently doesn’t have an online poker partner in Pennsylvania.

However, there are connections between PokerStars and Pennsylvania. Resorts is managed by Mohegan Sun, and Mohegan Sun also owns a casino in Pennsylvania, Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, which would make it a prime candidate for a partnership with PokerStars.

It’s unclear how many sites PokerStars would operate, which is dependent upon whether Resorts or Mohegan Sun launch a branded online poker website, and whether or not PokerStars uses the Full Tilt brand in either state.

Network liquidity

It’s extremely rare that an online poker market doesn’t have a clear number one choice, and the likely number one choice in the PennsylJersey market is likely to be PokerStars. Although, 888, with its powerful and numerous brands could also slide into that role, but would likely be a slightly weaker frontrunner than PokerStars.

Using a baseline of 2,000 average cash game players between the two states, the alpha site would likely have 40-50 percent market share, with the beta and gamma sites splitting the remaining 1,000-1,200 players.

Here’s how those numbers might look if we use a three-way bullish and bearish liquidity model with a clear alpha dog:

 

  Alpha site Beta site Gamma site
Bearish (1,200 players) 600 400 200
Baseline (2,000 players) 1,000 600 400
Bullish (2,500 players) 1,250 750 500

 

How it might look with a weaker alpha dog:

 

  Alpha site Beta site Gamma site
Bearish (1,200 players) 500 400 200
Baseline (2,000 players) 900 700 400
Bullish (2,500 players) 1,100 800 600

 

How it might look in a two operator market with a clear cut leader:

 

  Alpha site Beta site
Bearish (1,200 players) 750 450
Baseline (2,000 players) 1,200 800
Bullish (2,500 players) 1,500 1,000

 

And finally, how it might look in a two operator market with a vulnerable leader:

 

  Alpha site Beta site
Bearish (1,200 players) 700 500
Baseline (2,000 players) 1,100 900
Bullish (2,500 players) 1,400 1,100
An Interstate Online Poker Agreement Between PA And NJ? Here's How It Might Look
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Steve Ruddock
- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.