Revenue For WSOP NV During Live Series Up 9 percent Over Last Year

One US Online Poker Operator Continues To Net Big Wins During The Summer Months

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For the third time in as many years, in Nevada has bucked the seasonal downtrend that wreaks havoc on the online poker industry during the summer months.

Beginning in late May, and continuing through the conclusion of the live World Series of Poker in mid-July, the operator took full advantage of its bond to the WSOP brand via an influx of tie-in events.

These and other enhancements to WSOP NV’s cross promotional model paid off dividends, as the site recorded higher revenue totals for the 2016 Series versus years prior.

WSOP NV builds upon a strong foundation

Nearly across the board, the site’s 2016 effort either paralleled or exceeded the standards set last summer:

  • The second running of the Online Bracelet event was an unprecedented success, drawing 927 players and creating a $1,184,650 prize pool — shattering the previous record set by the same tournament last year by over $300,000.
  • The 25 Seat Scramble also made the grade, beating its guarantee by a healthy margin and sending 29 players to the World Series of Poker Main Event.
  • A $65,000 guarantee that ran on the same day as the Scramble nearly doubled its minimum benchmark, generating approximately $116,000 in total buy-ins.

From a statement provided to OPR from WSOP Head of Online Poker Bill Rini, we learned that the operator managed to improve its bottom line during the 2016 iteration of the live Series:

“Revenue was up around 9% YoY and we hit a new record in terms of largest prize pool in an online tournament in the US since regulation.  Needless to say we were very happy with 2016’s results and we’re very excited that we can keep growing and providing players with a great experience.”

Unfortunately, because the Nevada online poker market no longer posts revenue totals (a byproduct of the market shrinking from three operators to two), any exact revenue figures are unknown.

However, an estimate can be gleaned:

In June 2014, the entirety of the NV market generated roughly $1.037 million in gross gaming revenue. Last fall, Rini informed OPR that in June 2015, WSOP NV alone exceeded that total.

Based on this information and Rini’s most recent statement, we can somewhat accurately deduce that WSOP NV’s revenue for June 2016 was at least $1.13 million, and possibly much more.

By comparison, New Jersey, with a population more than three times as large, brought in only $1.97 million for June. The combination of WSOP NJ and 888 Poker accounted for just $602k of that figure.

Cash game traffic dips year-over-year

One area where WSOP NV has taken a slight hit is in the cash game department, but that hardly means ring game traffic suffered this summer.

From late May to the site’s summer peak on July 9 (not surprisingly, the same weekend as the Online Bracelet/Scramble), liquidity climbed 32.1 percent. Traffic stayed near peak levels throughout the Main Event, only dipping 7.7 percent from July 10 through July 17.

Last year’s trajectory was mostly similar, with liquidity taking off at the Series’ onset, then dipping slightly near the midpoint only to rise to new heights as the Main Event approached.

And while last year’s uptick wasn’t quite as impressive — according to Poker Industry Pro (paywall) via, volume rose 28.1 percent from the onset of the Series to the site’s early July peak — the graph below shows that liquidity was starting from a notably higher point.

WSOP NV Cash Game Traffic

As a result, WSOP NV wasn’t able to eclipse last year’s high water mark, despite its best efforts.

What the operator did manage to do, however, was increase revenue in the face of what’s becoming an increasingly hostile cash game environment.

It is presumed this was accomplished via increased tournament and satellite revenues, although it’s certainly plausible that the site saw an increase in the average value of its cash game players.

Whatever the reason, the results solidify the notion that cash game traffic is no longer the sole metric by which a site’s success or lack thereof should be judged.

What’s next for WSOP NV?

Since the Main Event went on hiatus on July 19, cash game traffic has taken an expected downturn. Liquidity is down 12.4 percent, and current 7-day averages are hovering around 162 — down from a tick over 200 during early July.

Last year’s tumble was slightly less pronounced (9.8 percent), but still in line with expectations.

As the summer wears on, expect traffic to continue dropping, only to regain any losses shortly after the seasonal uptick begins in mid-September.

Although the 2016 WSOP only came to a close three weeks ago, Rini and his team are already prepping improvements for the 2017 Series:

“At the end of the series we compile everyone’s notes as well as player feedback and review everything.  We’re still in that phase at the moment.  A lot of things that end up on our lists are logistical issues that players don’t see but end up making a big difference in the player experience.  For instance, improving how we communicate online satellite winners to the offline cage in order to reduce the player wait to collect lammers.

It’s a little early for me to commit to any specific changes for 2017 but we’re constantly putting everything under the microscope so we can offer players the best experience possible.”

Should WSOP NV keep the communication lines with its players open, it’s difficult to envision a scenario where the operator doesn’t continually improve upon its performance during June and July.

And given the generally poor health of the broader industry during that time, a recurrent feel-good story may be just what the doctor ordered.

- 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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