In the battle for online poker supremacy in the United States, New Jersey has consistently led Nevada (with Delaware being a distant third). But over the last few months, the traffic numbers between America’s traditional gambling powerhouses have tightened – and the recent influx of poker players in Las Vegas seems to have tipped the scales, at least for the moment.
According to numbers from PokerScout, the Nevada World Series of Poker online poker site has recently overtaken the Borgata/PartyPoker site in New Jersey to become the largest regulated poker site in America. As of Tuesday afternoon, the WSOP-branded site featured a seven-day average of 150 players on the site, compared to 140 on the Borgata Internet poker room – the first time a Nevada site has taken the lead since New Jersey started offering online gambling.
Overall, New Jersey still has more online poker traffic than Nevada, though not by as much as one would expect when comparing the populations of the two states. But the fact that Caesars’ WSOP site has become the largest in the nation is still significant, as it is the result of numerous factors.
World Series of Poker Draws Players
First, of course, is a built-in advantage the Nevada site has: the World Series of Poker itself. There are thousands of players – many of whom make their livings playing poker on the Internet – who have descended on Las Vegas for the WSOP.
By and large, if these players are going to be playing online poker, they’ll be convinced to do it on the WSOP site. Some of those players may even be visiting from New Jersey, thus removing traffic from that state’s sites, while adding it in Nevada.
Overall, traffic at the WSOP Nevada site is up about 50 percent since just before the start of the World Series. But that alone wouldn’t have been enough to catch New Jersey’s virtual poker rooms, if not for a precipitous fall in the Garden State’s traffic as well.
Variety of Issues Plague New Jersey
In late January, New Jersey’s online poker sites saw an average of over 600 real-money cash game players on the site at any time. But that number has since fallen, without any sign that it will recover anytime soon. As of Sunday, the average had fallen to just over 300 for the past seven days – a 50 percent drop from that January peak.
Part of that drop can be attributed to seasonal changes. In the winter, bad weather kept many people at home, improving the chances that they’d spend a little more time playing online poker. But while the poker world as a whole has seen a drop of about 22 percent since January, even New Jersey’s most successful poker sites have lost more traffic: the Borgata’s entry is down 40 percent over the same time period.
After the WSOP wraps up, it’s likely that New Jersey’s top sites will reclaim the lead in the American traffic standings. But in the long term, there are some basic issues that need to be addressed for the state’s Internet poker market to flourish. Analysts have pointed to a lack of awareness that online poker is available in the state, as well as issues with payment processing, as two major factors that have limited the size of New Jersey’s poker sites thus far.