Since launching two years ago this Thursday, the New Jersey online poker industry has undergone a host of positive changes, ranging from improvements in the areas of geolocation and payment processing, to software upgrades and tournament schedule revamps.
Yet, one aspect of the market that hasn’t significantly changed is the percentage market share owned by the state’s two predominant online poker operators – the Borgata (Party/Borgata) and Caesars (WSOP/888) – who are as competitive with one another now as they were in early 2014.
We notice that since the Borgata’s blistering start in December 2013, the race for market supremacy has been hotly contested (see chart below).
Although there hasn’t been a single month where Caesars reaped more online poker revenue than the Borgata, the latter’s margin of victory has never exceeded 13.7 percent (May 2015), and has only reached double digits in five out of the past 22 months.
In total, the Borgata has generated 53.9 percent of total industry revenue, compared to Caesars’ 45.1 percent. The defunct Ultimate Poker accounts for the remaining 1.1 percent.
Thus far, online poker promotions, tournament series and brick and mortar tie-in events in NJ have not resulted in any one operator gaining or losing significant traction.
That being said, there have been a few select events that have moved the needle, albeit modestly and temporarily:
The one event that was expected to shake up the industry but didn’t was the partial shared liquidity agreement between 888 and WSOP.com.
Since the agreement was forged in January, the network’s market share is slightly less (0.4 percent) than the combined share of 888 and WSOP.com in the four months prior.
One possible justification is that the newly-forged network consolidated a significant portion of its tournament schedule, resulting in increased average turnouts but fewer tournaments.
Also, 888 largely abandoned its promotional efforts once the agreement went live, instead defaulting to WSOP to do most of the heavy lifting. This is beginning to change, and the network’s market share appears to have benefited modestly because of it.
Interestingly, since January 2014 the duo of WSOP.com and 888 have brought in more cash game customers than Party/Borgata – at times appreciably more.
Even when Party/Borgata’s lead was at its largest in May through June, WSOP/888 averaged upwards of 55 percent more cash game liquidity, as per data collected from Poker Industry Pro via PokerScout.com.
So why the glaring disparity between revenue and cash game liquidity? A couple theories:
However, once PokerStars enters the equation, it’s assumed the online poker behemoth will siphon significant share away from its competitors, and will likely emerge as the market share leader.
In lieu of recently announced cutbacks to its renowned VIP Club program, I don’t expect PokerStars’ lead to be as big as I had initially, but it’s still difficult to deny PokerStars’ marketing pull and the advantages in software and customer service that the operator will hold over its competition.