PokerStars May Face Even Steeper Competition From 888 Poker In NJ

Lottery Sit And Goes On WSOP/888 A Potential Game Changer In New Jersey

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As first reported by Poker Industry Pro (paywall), 888poker will be debuting lottery sit and goes on its international client sometime this summer.

With the launch, 888 will become the last of the top five dot-com sites and networks to embrace some form of the popular poker-casino hybrid, following closely on the heels of Sit and Go Hero on PartyPoker and the recently announced Fish Party on MPN.

Whether or not 888’s LSNGs will make their way overseas to the WSOP/888 network in New Jersey is still unknown. Should it, the network stands to reclaim the revenue it conceded to PokerStars NJ – currently the only regulated U.S. online poker site to offer the format.

Details of launch yet to be revealed

At present, little is known about 888’s LSNG variant. There is no firm launch date, and it is unknown whether 888 will stick to the formula first popularized by Winamax in 2013, or offer its own twist on the format.

A representative of 888 did offer one tidbit on the site’s dedicated Two Plus Two forum, stating that “the buy-in levels will be pretty standard for the industry.”

Yet, even that clue is somewhat ambiguous, as buy-in levels vary quite widely from operator to operator. For instance, Spin & Go buy-ins on PokerStars range from $0.25 – $100, while the iPoker network caps Twister buy-ins at just €10.

Clearer, is that 888 now appears fully committed to the acquisition and retention of net-depositing players.

The longtime holdout recently tossed its traditional rakeback scheme in favor of a challenge-based loyalty program that rewards consistency and multi-vertical play over high volume.

It has also begun sporting promotions that possess some sort of randomized element, akin to the model PokerStars has adapted in the Amaya era.

A LSNG offering appears the logical next step in transitioning from an “old-school” site to one that preferences hobbyists and gamblers.

Will 888’s lottery sit and go come to New Jersey?

Historically, the WSOP/888 client software has lagged behind its international counterpart, both in terms of features and game offerings. It follows that any LSNG launch probably won’t occur in parallel.

However, there’s plenty of reason to suspect 888 will eventually bring the format to the U.S. market:

  • Lottery sit and goes have proven more than a passing fad, having retained a high level of popularity for three years.
  • The allure of five, six and seven figure paydays sells itself, somewhat negating the need for costly marketing campaigns.
  • 888 is well positioned to become the face of LSNGs in the US, as it’s the only operator to have a foothold in all three states that have regulated online poker (New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware), and will presumably be among the first wave of licensees in any other state that passes legislation.

Lastly, the introduction of lottery sit and goes on WSOP/888 will bridge the revenue gap between itself and PokerStars NJ. By how much depends on a few variables, such as the buy-in levels offered, the top multiplier and the rake – but in just about every scenario, the shift stands to be dramatic.

Lottery sit and goes: a proven commodity

If the debut of Spin & Go’s in the New Jersey market have taught us anything, it’s that cash game traffic is no longer a near perfect indicator of revenue.

PokerScout data shows that in May, PokerStars NJ captured 39.6 percent of the cash game market and a significantly higher revenue share (44.8 percent).

Granted, other variables may factor into that discrepancy, but the predominant one appears to be Spin & Go’s, which due to their quick turnaround times, popularity and high rake, are generating a tidy sum for PokerStars NJ.

On the flip side, WSOP/888 only captured a paltry 26.7 percent revenue share, despite supporting 36.9 percent of the industry’s cash game traffic.

A recent change to the network’s tournament rake schedule should close the gap somewhat, but the lack of a “chancy” poker game will continue to weaken its bottom line, even more than the inclusion of one lifts PokerStars’.

The good news for WSOP/888 is that if these figures are any indicator, it can easily recuperate significant revenue share – simply by allowing players to spin the reels.

There may even be a universe where it claims the revenue crown from the online poker behemoth.

Image credit: Cindy Hughes /

- Robert DellaFave is a game designer and avid poker player. He writes for several publications centered on legal US online poker and the regulated online gambling industries in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
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