Traffic at legal US online poker sites is settling in to a more stable pattern following weeks of declines.
That’s per data from the latest Scouting Report, PokerScout.com’s daily analysis publication covering the global online poker industry.
The World Series of Poker gets underway in a matter of weeks, with events starting at the end of May. It’s easily the biggest single event in the poker industry, live and online.
This year’s Series will be the first with a real-money poker site live on WSOP.com. So what, if any, impact will the live World Series of Poker have on legal online poker markets in the US?
I suspect the impact on New Jersey’s market for online poker will be small, but positive.
WSOP.com NJ has been running satellites to the WSOP for several weeks now and is likely to ramp up activity in the weeks ahead. There will no doubt be increased marketing surrounding the Series – primarily by Caesars, but all operators are likely to tag along to some degree. And the media attention surrounding the Series, along with the subsequent broadcasts on ESPN, are certain to trigger interest from both new and existing players.
Nevada is a different story. With the influx of thousands of poker players into the state over the nearly two-month period the WSOP spans, I believe there’s the potential for a surge of traffic at WSOP.com NV and, to a lesser extent, Ultimate Poker.
I expect both rooms to be full-throttle aggressive with promotions, marketing and bonuses, an approach that should help to reactivate players as it attracts new ones. And I’d expect the launch of legal online poker to be a big part of the narrative for mainstream media covering the WSOP, a subtle but possibly powerful supplement to operator-driven marketing.
Opinions on the matter are far from universal.
For example, WSOP.com head Bill Rini said at iGNA that he wasn’t anticipating a meaningful bump to online traffic from the Series. And it may well be the case that the prospect of playing online poker won’t be as enticing to players passing through as I suspect. Competition from illegal sites will also artificially depress interest.
Comparing New Jersey to Nevada isn’t a perfect apples-to-apples proposition. But there’s an incongruity here that’s nonetheless worth noting: PokerScout estimates that New Jersey is responsible for 69% of all legal online poker liquidity in the US (as measured by cash game traffic), with Nevada accounting for 29% (Delaware gets the final 2%).
That means New Jersey has only 2.3x the average cash game traffic of Nevada despite being about 3.2x the size of Nevada in terms of population (2.7mm vs 8.8mm).
Turn the topic to revenue and New Jersey fares much better. Year-to-date, New Jersey has generated $9.76mm in revenue from online poker. In the same period, Nevada managed $2.72mm. That puts New Jersey at about 3.6x Nevada, slightly better than a blunt adjustment for population size would predict.
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