Recently released revenue data from the DGE reveals that New Jersey’s online poker market grew slightly in March, with month-over-month gross revenue margins increasing from $3.1 mm to just over $3.2 mm.
Taken at face value, these numbers indicate a trend towards stability. But a look beyond the surface exposes an undeniable truth: the Garden State’s iGaming industry is slowly bleeding customers.
Yet, I’m hard pressed to believe that the NJCOP will be the catalyst that reignites pronounced, long-term interest in New Jersey’s regulated Internet poker market.
For the majority of March, cash game traffic remained relatively static, with only the All American Poker Network (888poker) suffering a marked loss.
However, during the last few days of the month traffic dipped considerably – a trend that outside of one noticeable spike has continued into April.
While it would be easy to chalk the traffic loss up to the change of season, global traffic has only dropped approximately five percent over the past month. By comparison, NJ-only volume has suffered a staggering twenty seven percent falloff, a great deal of which has occurred over the past 14 days.
To further exhibit this point, take a look at current 7 day cash game averages across all NJ sites, with March 31st figures in parenthesis:
The outlook for New Jersey’s poker sites appears even grimmer when you consider that March is three days longer than February.
More telling than month-over-month figures are daily gross revenue averages, as follows:
Were it not for the upcoming NJCOP, I would project April’s numbers to fall to December levels. As is, they’re difficult to predict.
One may attribute the stagnation of the Garden State’s regulated poker market to the state’s limited population. Yet, month-over-month online casino revenues clearly exhibit that there is still room for growth.
Case in point: Since January, NJ online casino revenues have ballooned from just over $6 mm to $8.67 mm. That’s a nearly 45 percent growth margin.
One final note: Turnout numbers for NJ Sunday Majors have hit a two month low. And while it’s certainly plausible that players are saving their tournament tickets for the NJCOP, going into the hotly anticipated series on such a low note does little to facilitate hype.
To further illustrate NJ’s poker woes, we compare turnouts for last Sunday’s majors to those approximately a month prior (in parenthesis):
All in all, tournament volume is down 18 percent over the past four weeks. Given this, it would appear that NJ’s poker sites desperately need to address their player retention mechanisms.
The good news is that right now there is incredible value to be had by playing in NJ online tournaments, if only because most of them are consistently failing to meet their guarantees.
If I’d been asked a month ago if the NJCOP’s would provide NJ’s regulated gaming market with a much needed lift, and I wouldn’t hesitate to answer “yes.” These days, I’m not so sure.
That being said, I fully expect the NJCOP Main Event, a $200k guarantee featuring a $200 buy-in, to at least come close to drawing the 1000+ runners necessary to meet the guarantee. But that’s one day – and one good day does not save a fledgling poker market.
Full NJCOP schedule here.
In order to retain players, New Jersey’s iGaming operators are going to have to do a better job confronting outstanding player concerns.
One could dedicate an entire series to the maladies that afflict NJ poker sites, but as an example, Party Poker NJ would likely grow its customer base by addressing a few issues, such as:
Otherwise, I’m of the belief that the NJCOP, or any other tournament series, might not be enough to propel the Garden State’s regulated market back in the right direction.