Delaware, New Jersey See Online Poker Gains for August, But Market Struggles Persist

Posted on September 16th, 2015 by Alana Markoff
Borgata New Jersey Delaware online poker

The Borgata and other Atlantic City land casinos saw their counterpart monthly online poker revenues rise, but they’re still down significantly from last year. (Image: agirlsgottaspa.com)

Delaware is becoming something akin to the little engine that could in the online poker universe. It’s chugging away, and making some progress, but can’t quite seem to make itself into a full-blown locomotive.

With Nevada down to just two online rooms (and only one with any significant traffic), that leaves only two states issuing monthly reports on their Internet poker revenues.

For August, both Delaware and New Jersey posted modest monthly gains, though the long-term stories in both states are more concerning.

In New Jersey, the state’s casinos reported that revenues from online poker came in at $1,983,230 in August, a five percent increase over the money they brought in during July. The market is fairly evenly split between the two major poker networks in the state, with the Borgata/partypoker partnership having slightly more revenue coming in than the Caesars/888 network.

Poker Down Annually, But Overall Revenues Up

While that number is a nice boost when compared to July, longer-term trends still look bad for the intrastate poker market. Compared to August 2014, last month’s revenues were down almost 12 percent, echoing a trend seen in most online poker arenas around the world.

What is particularly interesting about that decline is that it comes despite the fact that the overall Internet gambling industry is doing quite well in New Jersey. Casino games were up more than 23 percent year-over-year, far overshadowing the losses on the poker side, to make the entire iGaming take nearly 16 percent higher in August than it was a year earlier.

Regardless of how you might interpret those numbers, they certainly look better than the ones that are coming in from Delaware. Online poker revenues came in at a paltry $31,248 for the state in August, though that was still an 11 percent increase from July’s haul.

Delaware Also Down Year-Over-Year

Of the three states with online poker, Delaware has clearly suffered the most from having a limited pool of players to draw on, and the revenue numbers reflect this. The online poker sites saw their take decrease nearly 20 percent year-over-year, a trend that seems to be taking the market on a path towards collapse.

It had been hoped that linking Delaware’s online poker network, which is powered by 888, to WSOP.com in Nevada would provide more incentive for players in the state to stick around. But while Delaware-specific traffic numbers aren’t available, the combined network hasn’t seen a noticeable increase in participation, and cash game numbers are down significantly from the highs seen during the World Series of Poker earlier in the summer.

Delaware’s overall Internet gambling picture isn’t as promising as New Jersey’s, either. The state saw online gaming revenues hit $158,980 this year, the highest figure so far in 2015 and a 12 percent increase over July. However, that number is still down eight percent when compared to the total from last August, suggesting the overall market for online gambling is shrinking in the First State.

While the online poker figures in these states may be disappointing, they cannot be regarded as surprising. Analysts have long maintained that online poker requires a large player base in order to thrive, something difficult to achieve on intrastate sites.

Without federal online poker legislation on the horizon, the best hope for improvement would be the regulation of Internet poker in states like California and New York. Those states and a handful of others have populations that could not only support reasonable online poker rooms on their own, but could also be excellent partners for smaller states that wanted to improve their player pools, such as Delaware.

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