If recent history is any indicator, New Jersey’s iPoker operators should have known better than to run special one-off tournament events on a holiday weekend.
Suffice it to say, neither the Online Championship Series Main Event nor Party’s $20k High-Roller met their guarantees. As a result, what could have been a rare proud day for NJ regulated Internet gambling may end up being remembered as something of an embarrassment.
But as we’ll explore shortly, the state of affairs in NJ’s online poker scene isn’t all bad.
The culminating event of WSOP’s Online Championship series attracted 395 players and 101 reentries, amounting to $99,200 in buy-ins.
And whereas Event #15 was the fourth in sequence that offered players an overlay, it marked the first time that a WSOPOC failed to draw at least half the buy-ins necessary to fulfill a guarantee.
Here’s a quick look at the turnout figures for last week’s other WSOPOC events:
A few observations:
It should be noted that Bill Rini and the rest of the WSOP team deserve a heap of credit for the WSOPOC’s aggressive guarantees in both New Jersey and Nevada, if only because no one would have complained if they played it safe.
That being said, I don’t think we’ll be seeing another $200,000+ guaranteed until New Jersey’s market shows sustained signs of life.
The PartyPoker NJ network ran an exclusive tournament event of its own last Sunday – a $530 buy-in, $20k Guaranteed High-Roller event.
Like the WSOPOC Main, the High-Roller failed to live up to expectations, drawing a meager 38 runners and featuring a $2,330 overlay.
Party’s flagship Sunday Major – the $50k Guarantee – which for a while was regularly drawing over 300 participants, only managed 246. That was 25 less than what would have been necessary to avoid an overlay.
According to revenue reports released by the DGE, New Jersey’s poker rooms brought in ~$318k less in May than one month prior. This marks the second time the state’s iPoker revenues have sustained a month-over-month loss.
In April, revenues dropped off an alarming 19.3 percent (~$618,000).
Party / Borgata still leads the way with a 53 percent market share, but their lead is anything but dominating. Together, the two generated $1.206 mm in gross revenue. However, the duo did sustain a marginally larger percentage loss than the combined efforts of WSOP and 888 Poker (13.27 percent vs. 10.81 percent).
And Ultimate Poker, which never really gave its more experienced and brand identifiable rivals a run for their money, barely managed to pull in $40k last month. That’s about 1/25th of what WSOP/888 took in.
Given recent trends, I would expect gross revenue figures for June to be roughly on par with last month, perhaps a tad higher.
It appears that most of New Jersey’s poker rooms are doing just enough to tip cash-game traffic back in the right direction. Either that or they bottomed out so thoroughly that there was nowhere to go but up.
In either case, the market displayed nominal, yet notable, growth over the past week.
Averages across all networks was up 3.9 percent. Compare this to the global market, which illustrated a 3.9 percent loss.
A small victory, but a victory nonetheless.
Well, it probably has something to do with the recently rolled out Double Points Summer promo.
In many ways a more reserved version of last winter’s 80% Rakeback promo, Double Points will in fact double the amount of status points players who deposit on 888 will receive.
While the Double Points promo is not quite the fire sale that its predecessor was due to the lack of qualification requirements and its broad scope, the promo is arguably more appealing to casual players and certainly more appetizing to tournament grinders. And lest we forget, 888 already offered the most lucrative loyalty program in New Jersey.
At first glance, there appears to be little cause for optimism regarding the growth of NJ’s poker market.
Revenues are down, cash-game traffic has been in a state of free fall for the past five months, and the industry is still grossly underperforming in the areas of software and at times, customer service. That, and it’s been proven that under all but the most ideal circumstances, the market is not big enough to regularly host $200,000+ guaranteed tournaments.
Yet, the path towards prosperity might not be an elusive pipe dream, for the following reasons:
For more on PokerStars’ chances of coming to New Jersey, and the Amaya deal in general, click here.