NJ iGaming Weekly: WSOP.com Aligns with New York Rangers; 888 Cash-Game Volume Bites the Dust

WSOP NY Rangers Deal
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It was a relatively quiet week on the New Jersey iGaming front. At least, it was until WSOP.com showcased its newly-minted partnership with the New York Rangers.

As the official online gaming partner of the Blueshirts, WSOP becomes the second online gambling site to buddy up with an American sports franchise.

Back in January, PartyPoker NJ forged a then-unprecedented deal with the New Jersey Devils and the Philadelphia 76ers. Shortly thereafter, cash-game traffic on the network hit an all-time peak, which to date has not been replicated by any NJ-based poker site.

As to be expected, WSOP.com immediately took advantage of its good fortune by rolling out a new hockey themed promo effective immediately.

We take a close look at the promo, as well as 888poker’s sudden cash-game volume woes in this iteration of NJ iGaming Weekly.

WSOP.com quietly forges late-season alignment with NY Rangers

Compared to the media blitz that followed Party’s partnership with the Devils and Sixers, WSOP’s announcement proved to be a much more understated affair.

Late last week, NJ’s second most frequented poker site posted a new page on its “Promotions” sub-tab, plainly stating that it was in fact the online gaming partner of the Rangers, and that beginning on March 23rd it would be rolling out a new Rangers-oriented promotion.

To date, there is no indication on the Rangers’ home page that the popular New York sporting franchise is paired up with a NJ gaming site.

Ultimate Hockey House Party promo details

WSOPs new promotion, entitled Ultimate Hockey House Party, grants any player who makes a deposit from now until April 5th entry into a sweepstakes. In order to qualify players must use the promotion code NYRANGERS.

Currently, three out of WSOP’s four cashiering methods allow for the entry of a promotion code (ACH, Neteller, and credit/debit card). It is not known whether players making a deposit via Caesars brick and mortar casino are eligible for the sweepstakes.

The front-page description of the sweepstakes and its prizes is left rather vague.

It expresses that four grand prize winners will be honored with “a visit to your home from a Blueshirt great.” Other winners will be bestowed with a plethora of Rangers tickets and merchandise.

By digging a bit deeper, I was able to unearth a few more pertinent details:

  • Forty winners will be awarded an official Rangers jersey, valued at $250 a pop.
  • Sets of two Rangers tickets will be gifted to 18 lucky winners, with nine receiving tickets to the Rangers home game against the Hurricanes on April 8th, and the other nine rewarded seats to the Blueshirts game against the Sabres on April 10th.
  • In addition, ticket winners will receive $120 in Rangers merchandise, bringing the value of each individual prize package up to $400.
  • The drawing for the first set of tickets will be held on April 5th at 1:oo PM, all other drawings will take place on the 7th at the same time.
  • Grand prize winners will only have 24 hours to claim their prize.
  • The maximum number of friends and family members grand prize winners are permitted to host on the Ranger alumni’s arrival date is capped at 12.
  • Only players who deposit on WSOP’s New Jersey site are eligible for the sweepstakes.

Given that the NHL season is coming to a close, combined with the fact that the Rangers playoff hopes are in serious jeopardy, it makes sense that WSOP would want to capitalize on its new partnership immediately.

Possible implications of the WSOP / Rangers partnership

If history is any indicator, the announcement of WSOP partnering with a local professional sports team could have a positive effect on the site’s middling cash-game volume.

At the time PartyPoker NJ inked its deal with the Devils / Sixers, cash-game traffic spiked. That being said, the upswing could have easily been attributed to the whirlwind of attention that surrounded the partnership more than it was the alignment itself.

In the upcoming year, WSOP would be wise to explore as many cross-promotional opportunities with the Rangers as possible, as in my opinion, drawing players from the Empire State to play online poker in NJ is a critical facet of the market’s long-term sustainability.

Cash-game volume on 888poker plummets

Over the past month, and particularly the last 10 days, cash-game volume on 888poker has fallen into a tailspin.

Since its peak on February 18th, volume on the AAPN network, of which 888poker is the sole inhabitant, has dropped an alarming 32 percent. Seven day averages are down 47 players to 99 over the five week span.

More disconcerting still, the drop-off rate appears to be accelerating. Case in point: 888 has lost 16 percent of its player base over the past 10 days.

Comparatively, traffic on PartyPoker NJ is only down 11 percent over the same five week time period.

Volume on WSOP has tapered off approximately 22 percent over the past month, but seven day averages on both WSOP and Party have remained mostly intact since early March.

While there is no black-and-white riposte as to why traffic numbers on 888 have taken a downturn, several theories emerge:

  • 888’s big-ticket promotion for March revolves around a series of tournament freerolls. Compare that to its previous efforts, which were tailored more towards acquiring and retaining cash-game players.
  • The site has yet to implement a VIP rewards program. Generally speaking, rewards schemes are far more advantageous for cash-game players than they are for tournament junkies.
  • Party / Borgata is in the midst of their “Countdown to 30,000,000 Hands” promotion, which awards players who are dealt milestone hands with cash prizes. Clearly, this promo is designed to draw attention towards the Party / Borgata brand, and by default, dissuade players from logging into other NJ poker sites.

It appears that 888’s long-awaited VIP program is finally on target to launch in May, potentially providing a much needed traffic boost.

However, players who have had their status points recently reset are in an uproar, with most believing that their accumulated points should roll over when the rewards system goes live.

In other words, don’t be surprised if 888’s nosedive continues.

Data values provided by PokerFuse Pro via PokerScout.

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Robert DellaFave
- Robert DellaFave is a game designer and avid poker player. He writes for several publications centered on legal US online poker and the regulated online gambling industries in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.