New Jersey Online Poker Revenues Continue to Tumble

Posted on November 19th, 2014 by Alana Markoff
New Jersey online poker revenues

Ray Lesniak says that a PokerStars return to New Jersey is being delayed by political forces. (Image: Mel Evans/AP)

New Jersey online poker saw revenues fall to an all-time low in October, marking the first month since the sites opened late last year that Internet poker brought in less than $2 million in revenue in the state.

The total take from poker fell to $1,967,904 during the month, down more than 5.6 percent compared to September.

It seemed likely that New Jersey would see its online poker revenues fall in October, despite the fact that this is normally a time of the year in which online gambling receives a bump, since more people are spending time indoors as the weather turns cold.

The closure of Ultimate Poker (and other Ultimate Gaming properties) in the state during the month of  September was sure to have an impact: even though it only had a small amount of traffic, which would limit the direct effects, the news of the shut down was sure to have a negative effect as well.

Borgata Remains Leader, But Sees Large Losses

The state’s revenue decline was far more in total than the share represented by the Ultimate Poker closure, which was far from the primary cause of the revenue downturn. The Borgata/Partypoker site, which currently leads the market with about 54 percent of all poker revenues, saw its own revenues drop by more than nine percent during October, a sharp decline for the top room in the state.

Caesars controls the rest of the remaining online poker market in the Garden State, although that is split between the WSOP.com site and an 888poker site. These two sites were relatively steady for October, as Caesars saw their online poker revenues drop by less than 0.4 percent.

Online Gambling Down Overall in New Jersey

The continued loss of online poker revenues mirror that of the overall Internet gambling market in New Jersey. In fact, casino games had an even worse month than poker, with revenues falling more than $600,000 to finish down 7.8 percent month-over-month.

Overall, the online gambling market was down 7.5 percent to $9.48 million, despite the downward trend, it was still enough to bring the yearly take to over $103 million.

That’s a significant amount of money, but still a figure that’s far short of the lofty (and unrealistic) projections made when Internet gaming was first launched last year. Less than a quarter of that money has come from poker, which has brought in just over $25 million so far in 2014.

Early in the year, online poker was bringing in more than $3 million a month, but the sites haven’t broken that level of revenue since March, and it’s hard to see the market returning to those levels in the near future.

PokerStars Return Date Still Uncertain

Still, there could be ways in which New Jersey’s Internet poker landscape could change, leading to a rebound. The most obvious of these would be the introduction of some new blood in the form of PokerStars, the one true giant in the industry.

For much of the last few months, there has been speculation that the Amaya Gaming-owned brand could return to New Jersey by the end of 2014.

But now, it seems that PokerStars won’t be licensed for operations in the state until at least early 2015. There has been no word of any official delays, though some like State Senator Ray Lesniak (D-Union County) have said politics are to blame.

In particular, Lesniak has pointed a finger at Governor Chris Christie, who he says is holding back the PokerStars application in order to give time for an online gambling ban backed by Sheldon Adelson to potentially pass Congress during the lame duck session.

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