Online Poker Revenue Remains Low in New Jersey
When the September revenue numbers for New Jersey’s online poker market were released last month, it showed that peer-to-peer games (internet poker) hit the lowest point in the industry’s five-year history. The numbers had been decreasing over the past several years, but the new low was concerning even for the most optimistic analysts.
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement just released the October numbers, and they are only slightly better for the poker segment than the previous month. The relatively small boost in revenue signals nothing in the way of a solution or road to recovery for the vertical.
Meanwhile, the overall internet gaming segment soared yet again, even setting a new monthly revenue record. With online table games and slots up nearly 35% year-on-year, it pushed the cumulative online gaming numbers to a new high and showed that the internet market as a whole is very healthy and continuing to grow at an encouraging rate.
Incredible revenue numbers in New Jersey for all forms of internet gaming. Regulation is working quite well! https://t.co/jrJDghRObf
— Poker Alliance (@ppapoker) November 15, 2018
Online Poker Inched Up in October
Poker revenue is reflected in the peer-to-peer number, which is separated from other forms of internet gaming for New Jersey. The extreme decline that had been evident in September did not continue into October, but the slight increase was barely anything of which to speak.
–October 2018 win: $1,653,746
–September 2018 win: $1,609,989
–October 2017 win: $1,934,145
–Month-on-month: 2.7% increase
–Year-on-year: 14.5% decrease
While any increase is welcome, it was not enough to erase the optics of the year-on-year downswing, which remains in the double digits.
New Record for Total Internet Gaming
Online slots and table games, listed by the Division of Gaming Enforcement as “other authorized games,” continue to hold up the monthly internet gaming win. The year-on-year increase for those types of games was an impressive 34.7%, which kept the overall gaming win on its consistent and reassuring upswing.
–October 2018 total online gaming win: $26,753,878
–September 2018 total online gaming win: $25,752,461
–October 2017 total online gaming win: $20,567,625
–Month-on-month: 3.9% increase
–Year-on-year: 30.1% increase
Last month, the $25.7 million in total internet revenue set September 2018 as the second highest revenue month in New Jersey’s five-year run of online gaming. But October beat it and set a new record, continually raising the bar and giving the industry as a whole a solid reputation. The state of New Jersey remains the star of the new US market and an example of what is possible.
Why Does Online Poker Matter?
Of course, online poker matters to its players and fans. Those who remember the glory days of the poker boom believed for many years that it would return, that there would again be opportunities to make money, easily find enough games to be a successful pro, and revel in the choices of poker sites that compete against each other for customers’ business.
That has looked more unlikely with each year that passed since Black Friday, but some maintained hope in the American market. They believed that poker made sense, state governments would legalize it to benefit from its revenue, and states would then connect their sites to create a massive shared liquidity network to benefit players and operators alike. However, in the seven years since the Department of Justice reversed the Wire Act to give the states the right to legislate internet gaming, only four states have done so. Others have talked about it and a few have even proposed bills, but less than a handful of states are even close to actually passing a bill.
So, why not focus on internet gaming in general and allow poker to be a small part of the larger picture? That is what the industry has forced poker supporters to do thus far, but it diminishes the skill-game component and lumps poker players in with general gamblers.
The skill component in poker is what sets the game apart from others. It is a peer-to-peer game, not one played against the house, and the house (casino) has no edge. Analysis and game theory increase players’ chances of winning, putting more space between poker and other games in the category of internet gaming. This was always the argument that the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) used when speaking to lawmakers and working toward legislation to legalize poker, and it is the reason several prominent Congressmen were willing to sponsor bills to that effect.
That has all changed, however. The profits from online slots and table games so far supersede that of poker that the skill-game argument has faded. And the overall popularity of sports betting and DFS overshadow all of the other games to such a degree that internet poker is being left in the dust.
If New Jersey is an example of how the national market may evolve, it doesn’t bode well for online poker growth in America.