NJ online poker continues to struggle as it was revealed this week revenues for February dropped 34.2 percent year-over-year. According to figures released by New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement, income from poker totaled $2,045,655, a considerable drop from 12 months earlier when the state brought in $3.1 million.
Although iPoker in the Garden State declined, overall the industry posted a slight increase from February 2014. Jersey’s total online gambling win totaled $10.4 million last month, nearly a $100K upswing from the year prior.
Poker’s $1,063,548 revenue drop and a record $1.5 million Let It Ride jackpot payout on BetfairCasino.com certainly didn’t help the Internet casino industry’s bottom line. However, online casinos in NJ are still managing to grow overall profits.
In the first two months, the economy has revenues totaling $21.9 million, an 11.1% increase compared to last year’s first two-month take of $19.7 million.
Garden State Bloom or Bust?
Though corporate executives remain optimistic regarding the general health of online gambling in New Jersey, poker is a different story. Enthusiasm remains for casino networks because each month poker accounts for a smaller percentage of the overall business. In 2014, poker represented 30 percent of total Internet gaming revenues, but just 12 months later that statistic has dropped below 20 percent.
Online poker in NJ has been a bumpy ride since it became legalized in 2013, but the market has been severely fluctuating over the last six months. Following a three-month downward trend last fall, the industry posted back-to-back revenue climbs in December and January.
The revenue increases weren’t gigantic, but they were increases nonetheless. February’s devastating 34 percent drop was precisely what the market didn’t need, but a drop that wasn’t completely unexpected. There are many issues facing NJ operators as networks continue to struggle with how to provide an optimal platform for players. After all, you can’t blame poor online numbers due to the winter’s harsh temperatures; you have to blame it on the industry itself.
The next couple of months will likely be crucial in determining whether NJ’s Internet poker market survives. Changes must be implemented to increase its sustainability, but not one clear theory exists on what that proper action entails. Whether it’s interstate liquidity, strengthening of promo schedules, or fixing the sporadic connectivity issues, the state’s operators and local government need to make adjustments quickly.
Change needs to occur fast because while residents are springing their clocks forward, the weather is also improving. It’s true poor weather cannot be blamed for poor online poker revenues, but the opposite holds true for sunny days.
In mid to late February, cash game traffic actually increased even though it didn’t necessarily lead to increased profits. Last March, iPoker lost 13 percent of its traffic and another 13 percent in April before bottoming in June. With residents beginning to thaw out after a long winter, look for Internet pools to once again melt away.