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PokerStars Trending To Top Of NJ Online Poker Market After Week 1, But At What Cost?

PokerStars New Jersey
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PokerStars went live in New Jersey for a soft launch on March 16. The online poker site’s arrival has had a very positive effect on the New Jersey online poker industry — the site has helped boost total traffic in the state by 20% — but at the same time has had a negative impact on the existing operators.

Here’s a look at the impact PokerStars has had on the industry and on its competitors, and what this means for New Jersey online poker going forward.

PokerStars’ impact on the industry

Week leading up to soft launch of PokerStars:

  • Wednesday, March 9: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 317
  • Thursday, March 10: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 313
  • Friday, March 11: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 303
  • Saturday, March 12: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 318
  • Sunday, March 13: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 317
  • Monday, March 14: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 320
  • Tuesday, March 15: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 320

And the numbers during the soft launch period:

  • Wednesday, March 16 (4PM-12AM): 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 320
  • Thursday, March 17 (4PM-12AM): 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 314
  • Friday, March 18 (8AM-12AM): 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 409
  • Saturday, March 19 (24 hours): 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 387
  • Sunday, March 20 (24 hours): 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 396

And here are the current traffic numbers since PokerStars officially launched on Monday:

  • Monday, March 21: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 397
  • Tuesday, March 22: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 401
  • Wednesday, March 23: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 397
  • Thursday, March 24: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 400
  • Friday, March 25: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 400

Based on the small sample size, PokerStars appears to have increased the New Jersey cash game market size by 20% (average of 400 cash game players compared to an average of 320 cash game players). An important note: cash game traffic as tracked by PokerScout.com doesn’t include Spin & Go traffic.

We also don’t have any reliable tournament traffic data to go on at this point.

PokerStars’ impact on existing operators

There were two dueling schools of thought on what the addition of PokerStars would mean for the 888 and WSOP.com network and for the PartyPoker and Borgata network.

One side ascribed to the idea that most of PokerStars traffic would be siphoned from the existing operators. The other school of thought was PokerStars would reengage past players and their cannibalization of their competitors would be significant, but not crushing.

It appears the second school of thought was correct.

Here is a look at traffic at 888 and WSOP.com beginning with the week leading up to the soft-launch of PokerStars:

  • Wednesday, March 9: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 187
  • Thursday, March 10: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic =184
  • Friday, March 11: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 178
  • Saturday, March 12: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 194
  • Sunday, March 13: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 193
  • Monday, March 14: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 196
  • Tuesday, March 15: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 199
  • Wednesday, March 16: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 200
  • Thursday, March 17: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 197
  • Friday, March 18: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 200
  • Saturday, March 19: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 180
  • Sunday, March 20: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 179
  • Monday, March 21: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 171
  • Tuesday, March 22: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 168
  • Wednesday, March 23: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 163
  • Thursday, March 24: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 160
  • Friday, March 25: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 160

And here are the traffic numbers from PartyPoker and Borgata over that same period of time:

  • Wednesday, March 9: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 130
  • Thursday, March 10: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic =129
  • Friday, March 11: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 125
  • Saturday, March 12: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 124
  • Sunday, March 13: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 123
  • Monday, March 14: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 123
  • Tuesday, March 15: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 121
  • Wednesday, March 16: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 119
  • Thursday, March 17: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 117
  • Friday, March 18: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 117
  • Saturday, March 19: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 115
  • Sunday, March 20: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 114
  • Monday, March 21: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 109
  • Tuesday, March 22: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 107
  • Wednesday, March 23: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 104
  • Thursday, March 24: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 104
  • Friday, March 25: 7-day rolling average cash game traffic = 104

While the traffic impact on their competitors has been significant but not debilitating, the existing operators should be worried, as it doesn’t seem PokerStars’ ascent has leveled off. On the flipside, the descent of 888, partypoker, WSOP.com and Borgata may not be complete, either.

Overall, it appears 888 and WSOP.com have lost about 20% of their cash game traffic to PokerStars, and PartyPoker and Borgata slightly less, as they are down about 17%.

If these trends continue I anticipate several new promotions and perhaps even a new marketing blitz by 888, WSOP.com, and perhaps by PartyPoker and Borgata, but the latter seems less likely considering the current uncertainty surrounding that partnership.

Will the New Jersey attrition rate subside?

The overarching question in New Jersey is this: Can the online poker sites continue to attract new players and/or slow down the rate of attrition of their players?

If they cannot, we’re likely to see the market peak and start to steadily decline back down to pre-PokerStars numbers. If this occurs, then the first school of thought — that PokerStars’ traffic will mostly come at the other operators’ expense — will be able to claim victory.

*All data in this column courtesy of PokerIndustryPro.com and PokerScout.com.

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Steve Ruddock
- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.