Nevada’s online poker industry is set to undergo some major changes in the coming months.
Quarter 4 of 2014 is supposed to see the launch of two new online poker rooms in the state, an 888-branded site and a TI (Treasure Island)-branded site that will also be powered by 888.
Both of these sites will join WSOP.com (another 888 site) to form the All American Poker Network (AAPN) Nevada.
The changes will not end there.
In early 2015, AAPN Nevada and 888’s three online poker sites in Delaware are expected to form the first interstate agreement, and despite the small populations of both states this will be one of the biggest moments in U.S. online poker history.
Let’s walk through how each of these dynamics will alter Nevada’s online poker market, and who will benefit from these changes.
Traffic is at Nevada’s online poker sites is certainly low in comparison to international rooms, but to be clear, Nevada isn’t underperforming in terms of online poker traffic when you look at historical data from around the globe.
The state may have some room for growth, but their current traffic numbers fall within industry and historical standards of an average of 50-100 players per one-million residents.
Using the industry standard for predicting player pool size, the state of Nevada and its 2.8 million residents has the potential for roughly 150-300 players at any given time (historically, Nevada has a stronger-than-average online poker participation rate).
According to PokerScout.com’s traffic numbers, Nevada has about 160 players at any given time, a number that rose as high as 200 players during the World Series of Poker this summer; not far off from their ceiling of 280 average players back in Fall 2013.
AAPN is unlikely to have a huge impact on the state’s overall traffic numbers, but there should be a noticeable boost for a couple of reasons:
My best guess would be that the launch of AAPN generates an increase of about 20-25 average players for the market.
The real boost will happen when the interstate agreement is enacted.
Delaware’s traffic is inconsequential at the moment. But once Delaware online poker sites have the boost from Nevada I’m anticipating average traffic in Delaware to not just jump back to its peak of about 15-20 players, but far beyond that.
While it may still seem too small to matter (adding a player pool of 100 to a player pool of 10) in this instance the sum is much greater than its parts, especially in Delaware’s direction.
An added 100 players sitting at their online poker tables is an absolute game changer for Delaware. Overnight Delaware will go from 10 players to over 150, and this should make online poker far more appealing to players who have been disappointed by the lack of games up to this point.
There are people in Delaware who want to play – there just aren’t any games going.
With just under 1 million residents, Delaware has underperformed, as the state should have between 50-100 players at any given time (I’d estimate Delaware’s potential closer to the low end number of 50).
If Delaware can jump their traffic up to 50 players (a 40 player increase) that means Nevada will add 50 players and not 10, bringing the 888 interstate network up to well over 150 players, and this may be the spark that Nevadans need to reach their full potential of 100 players per million residents.
The increases from interstate poker will be self-reinforcing, with one state boosting the other which in turn boosts the other, and so on.
Another benefit of the interstate agreement is the time zone difference.
The three hour difference between the two states means peak traffic hours will last longer, and players in both locales are more likely to continue playing, considering the games will not just suddenly die off at a certain time.
The games will be better and there will be more of them, and players in Delaware that usually log off at Midnight (when traffic drops from 20 to 5 players and then quickly to 0) might now play to 2 AM, which is 11 PM in Nevada.
These lengthier sessions will also raise the number of average players, and result in games running closer to around the clock, allowing the NV / DE rooms to attract the occasional straggler to the tables in the middle of the night.
Taking all this into account, it’s not out of the question that the Nevada and Delaware agreement could take the two states combined average player pool from around 170 to over 300.
888’s decision to launch in every state could turn out to be one of the most strategically significant in the nascent U.S. online poker industry.
Using just Nevada and Delaware (imagine if New Jersey joins Nevada and Delaware?) 888 will have a very solid player base to build off of, while only using roughly 1/100th of the total U.S. population.
Nevada and Delaware’s MSIGA (Multi State Internet Gaming Association) will be a very appealing option to new states that legalize online poker, and this in turn makes 888 a convenient and attractive partner.