New Jersey has been waiting for some good news about its online poker market for many months now, as revenues on the virtual felt seem to have been trending downward for as long as anyone can remember.
But the summer seems to be offering up some signs of hope, even if the state shouldn’t be expecting a poker boom in the near future.
Analysis by PokerIndustryPro.com found that there is more cash game traffic at New Jersey’s online poker tables now than at any time since April, offering up hope that revenues could bounce back as well.
Over the past month or so, traffic is up about 3 percent when compared to June, with even larger gains being seen in the past few days.
It’s impossible to say exactly how this will translate into revenue, especially since it doesn’t incorporate any tournament data into the mix.
However, with the last week seeing cash game traffic at levels that haven’t been reached since early April, it seems almost certain that there will be at least some improvement when July’s numbers come out.
Online Poker Revenues Falling Even As Internet Gambling Booms
That would be a welcome change, to say the least. Online poker brought in just $1.8 million during June, down about 10 percent from a year earlier.
That’s a number that fits with a worrying trend in the New Jersey online gambling market.
While casino games have grown tremendously in the past year, enough to grow the overall market by more than 20 percent year-over-year, online poker revenues have done nothing but decline.
But things seem to have stabilized, and perhaps even turned around, over the past couple of months.
Since early May, there have been encouraging signs at the WSOP.com/888poker network, which has likely benefitted from excitement over the World Series of Poker (the WSOP ran from late May through mid-July).
The partypoker/Borgata partnership didn’t have the benefit of the World Series connection, and as such, their troubles continued through early July.
However, their traffic numbers have improved since hitting a low point on July 11, suggesting that there is some organic growth happening to go along with any buzz related to the WSOP.
As of Wednesday, The WSOP/888 network is still the larger of New Jersey’s two online poker partnerships, averaging about 180 players at its cash game tables over the past week.
The partypoker/Borgata pairing boasts about 120 players at any given time; that means there are about 300 online cash games players on regulated New Jersey sites at any given time.
For the sake of comparison, the shared Nevada/Delaware network currently averages about 180 cash game players.
PokerStars Could Provide Boost to Market
Even with this gradual increase in the New Jersey traffic numbers, however, the market still seems to be underperforming expectations considering the size of the population in that state.
Many analysts have pointed out that individual states will have issues with maintaining enough liquidity in intrastate poker networks; it is unclear if there is any chance that New Jersey will join in with Nevada and Delaware or other states in the future.
The potential introduction of PokerStars to New Jersey could also provide a spark for the state’s Internet poker market. Amaya CEO David Baazov has said that the site could come to New Jersey sometime in the current quarter, though no official launch date has been announced.