Regulated online poker in the United States entered something of a holding pattern in 2014.
While there was a lot of talk in California, and limited debate on the subject elsewhere, no new states even voted on regulating online poker in 2014.
That means that Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware remained the only three states to offer Internet poker to players in those states.
Overall, all three states would likely say that their experiences with online poker were somewhat disappointing this year.
While the game won’t be disappearing from these markets anytime soon, the expected growth for the industry didn’t come, and in fact, the last few months saw some very discouraging signs for those who hoped state-by-state online poker could be a viable path in the long term.
New Jersey Loses Rooms, but Top Brands Maintain Solid Traffic
After New Jersey introduced online gambling in late 2013, two clear leaders quickly emerged in the Internet poker market.
The Borgata is not only the most successful casino in Atlantic City, but also has the most popular poker room, so it was little surprise that their joint venture with partypoker became the leading online poker room in the state.
Their biggest challenge has come from Caesars, as their World Series of Poker branded site (WSOP.com) has also brought in consistently strong traffic numbers. 888 Holdings also has an independent room (the All American Poker Network), which has had moderate success.
The other poker sites, which were mostly non-factors to begin with, have left the market. Ultimate Gaming fled from New Jersey after accusing partner Trump Plaza of contract breaches shortly after the casino shut down in September.
Betfair closed their online poker room in December after making less than $10 per month from the site in 2014.
Over the first ten months of 2014, online poker had brought in over $25 million for New Jersey’s casinos. However, that number was falling late in the year: in October, monthly revenues dropped below $2 million for the first time since the market opened late last year.
WSOP.com Claims Virtual Monopoly in Nevada
In Nevada, the year started with two major online poker sites: WSOP.com and Ultimate Poker. While the Caesars backed site always had a traffic advantage, their edge really became clear during the World Series of Poker, when poker players from around the world flooded into the state.
That pushed online revenues to over $1 million for the first time in June, almost entirely to the benefit of WSOP.com.
Perhaps believing they couldn’t compete against WSOP.com’s brand recognition, Ultimate Poker left Nevada in November. That leaves WSOP.com with what amounts to a monopoly in the state; while there’s also a Real Gaming site run by South Point, that site has failed to pick up any real traffic.
That may not be a great situation for the state’s online poker market, as revenues have fallen every month since that June haul.
Online poker was never going to be big business in Delaware, but 2014 saw the 888-powered network (all three racetrack casinos in the state share a single player pool for Internet poker) struggle to hold on to even the modest revenues it had been bringing in when it opened late last year.
Last December, online poker brought in over $100,000 in Delaware, a level that was never reached in 2014. Instead, revenues gradually fell month by month, until hitting a record low of $25,607 in June.
The market has stabilized since then, but hasn’t seen any significant growth, and isn’t likely to unless the state can share player pools with other jurisdictions. Luckily, such an agreement with Nevada is on the table, and it is hoped that it could go into effect as soon as early in 2015.