NJ iGaming Weekly: Depositing and Geotargeting Issues Lead to Low Traffic, Huge Overlays

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New Jersey’s foray into the virtual gambling arena is officially one week old.

During that time, tens of thousands of new accounts were created, and millions of poker hands played. And within a mere seven days, New Jersey’s online poker traffic has already usurped that of Nevada’s.

Yet, the question remains: just how much potential traffic, and subsequently state revenue, is being lost due to a lack of functional depositing options and frequent geolocation issues? If I had to guess, the answer would be “more than expected.”

It’s very likely that in time, most of these crippling issues will be sorted out. Until then, grinders want to know what deposit options are currently working, whether geolocation is improving, which sites offer the best promos and the biggest tournament overlays, and which ones boast the most cash game traffic.

Depositing: Skrill added; Visa’s troubles continue

Perhaps the biggest development on the depositing front over the past week was the addition of Skrill as a payment option to NJ.PartyPoker.com.

An e-wallet that functions similarly to Paypal, Skrill works intimately with the gambling and online gaming sectors and has become the preferred payment processor of many international online poker players.

Given the struggles most New Jersey players are having allocating funds to their accounts, Skrill’s entry into the mix couldn’t have come at a better time, if only because Visa’s overly cautious approach to NJ’s newly-minted market has resulted in the majority of deposit attempts being rejected.

According to PartyPoker’s increasingly informative cashier tab, the only “issuing banks for Visa” likely to process transactions are: Nordstrom FSB, TD Bank and U.S. Bank.

On the flip side, MasterCard has been more proactive in amending its iGaming policies, and it shows. During the past week, it has approved nearly eight times more iGaming transactions than Visa.

Online bank transfers and instant e-checks have proven the most reliable forms of depositing funds, although they’re still not bulletproof.

Listed below is a snapshot look of each site’s accepted deposit methods:

  • NJ.PartyPoker.com: MasterCard, Visa, online banking transfer, instant e-checks, e-checks by IGM-pay, Skrill
  • BorgataPoker.com: MasterCard, Visa, online banking transfer, instant e-checks
  • WSOP.com and 888: MasterCard, bank transfer ACH, brick and mortar casino cage at Caesars Atlantic City
  • Ultimate Poker: MasterCard, Pay Near Me (7-11), instant checks, bank wire, check, brick and mortar casino cage at Taj Mahal
  • Betfair NJ: MasterCard, Visa, ACH, bank transfer, check

Geolocation: Ongoing issues kill action

During week one, approximately 12 percent of users attempting to log in in from within NJ borders have been denied. That’s a far cry from the 35 percent blocked play rate experienced by Nevada residents back in April, but problematic nonetheless.

Compounding the issue is that of the players who are recognized initially, most have experienced instances in which the geolocation services stop recognizing their location midway through a session. This is especially prevalent among players who use laptops or tablets.

Let’s be clear: nothing impacts an online poker player’s ROI more than their ability to stay connected to the server. So as long as geolocation issues continue to plague the iGaming market, some hardcore grinders will likely err on the side of caution and refrain from playing.

According to DGE Director David Rebuck, “It’s not an issue where the geolocation borders are knocked in too far anymore.”

That’s great, but then exactly what is the issue? Inquiring minds would like to know.

From my own experience, the best way to establish a stable connection is to attach a USB wifi adapter to your hardwired PC. It’s not the “play poker from anywhere” solution some players are looking for, but until the geolocation quandary is solved, it’s a reliable solution.

Promotions: Value abounds, but watch the fine print

As part of their welcome packages, each NJ poker site is offering its own set of attractive promotions.

The terms of some welcome bonuses, like the $100 first deposit match offered by PartyPoker, are relatively straightforward: bonus dollars are awarded in four equal increments and based on point accumulation. Points are generated through playing in cash games and paying tournament entry fees – fairly standard stuff.

Others, like WSOP’s rakeback promo, may seem like a great deal initially, but prove misleading.

To paraphrase, the promotion essentially states that players who play X raked hands per Y days will receive additional rakeback in December and January. However, in response to a question posed by a 2+2 forum user regarding the definition of a raked hand, a WSOP.com representative stated that “at least .01 APPs” would have to be earned to receive credit.

Thus, according to WSOP, the definition of a raked hand is one in which users contribute a portion of the rake, meaning they must actually participate in the hand.

Regardless, it’s still a nice promotion. It’s just not as good as most players initially thought it was.

Other worthwhile promotions/bonuses are listed below:

  • Ultimate Poker: 100% deposit bonus up to $500. A minimum deposit of $50 is required.
  • WSOP.com: 100% deposit bonus up to $400, plus $10 free. More details here.
  • 888poker: Currently offering a Double Your Money promo, which is a 100% dollar for dollar match up to $500. It’s also offering two 10k daily freerolls tickets and $10 in free cash, just for signing up.
  • PartyPoker: New Jersey’s Next Poker Millionaire promo grants players the chance to play their way into a live SNG at the Borgata. The winner receives $1 million in cash and prizes. All 8 finalists win cash and a WPT/Borgata live package. Semi-finals run each Sunday at 6:30, starting December 1st. More.

Players should also be aware that they’ll only have a limited time, typically 90 days, to clear their welcome bonuses, else they’ll become null and void.

Traffic: Modest levels bring big overlays

Due to the aforementioned geotargetting and cashiering problems and an overall lack of iGaming awareness, traffic on NJ regulated online poker sites has been less than overwhelming.

The numbers listed on PokerScout do indicate that volume is on the rise, but it appears as though NJ iGaming market will be fighting an uphill battle for the foreseeable future.

But as most poker players already know, with low volume comes huge overlays.  For microgrinders, PartyPoker is running $25 guaranteed tournaments every half hour. The entry fee is only $1, and the tournament rarely draws more than 10 or 15 runners. Do the math, and its easy to realize just how much value is earned by registering.

Larger guaranteed tournaments have also had trouble meeting quotas. Yesterday’s $27.5k R&A $10k Nightly Guarantee on WSOP.com drew 267 buys, good for a nearly $3,300 overlay.

In terms of traffic, according to PokerScout, PartyPoker holds a slight edge over WSOP.com for the NJ crown. The All American Poker Network is a distant third, followed in fourth by Ultimate Poker.

Betfair, which I panned in my site-by-site analysis, is doing about as well as I had expected, meaning not well at all. The poorly designed, bug-ridden site is bringing up the rear. Cash games are non-existent and most scheduled tournaments have trouble getting off.

Other noteworthy stats:

  • PartyPoker’s December 1st New Jersey’s Next Millionaire freeroll drew 1851 runners – the largest tournament field across all sites thus far.
  • WSOP.com’s December 2nd $5k Guarantee boasted 179 players, 117 rebuys and 106 add-ons.
  • 24-hour peak cash-game traffic on PartyPoker is 501.

Stay tuned next week for the latest development in NJ’s steadily blossoming iGaming market.

- 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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