WSOP.com and 888poker.com Combine Players and Guarantee Larger Prize Pools
Two of New Jersey’s largest Internet poker sites will begin sharing players between them beginning next week. The two affected sites are 888poker.com and WSOP.com. The move will allow the sites to guarantee larger prize pools, which should lead to greater player satisfaction and perhaps better participation.
Caesars Interactive, which announced the move, said that it was designed to increase “player liquidity”. New Jersey’s gaming websites are trying to find new ways to increase revenues, after the first year of licensed online gambling in the state proved to be disappointing. New Jersey officials had predicted online gambling might pull in $1 billion a year, but the industry only collected abut $110 million in the first year of operations.
Ways to Increase Online Jersey Numbers
The numbers naturally will increase in the second year. Some sites did not get started until after the November 30, 2013 launch date. All of them had trouble with credit card transactions, while the geolocation technology was glitchy in the beginning. Both problems likely drove players away from legal gambling.
Also, the industry did not have PokerStars in the mix. That might change in year two. Also, all the operations required massive startup costs, which might have hurt advertising expenses. Even more, New Jersey might sign a player-sharing agreement with Nevada or the United Kingdom. All that said, the ability of two sites to share player pools is a nice innovation.
$130K Tournament Guarantees
Under the new arrangements, both the WSOP website and the 888 Poker website will be able to offer weekly $130,000 tournaments. Players who sign up through either site will be able to enter a tournament with a compelling prize pool. It’s an important step, because the top international poker sites offer major guaranteed prize pools throughout the weekend–especially on Sunday nights.
While the prize pools are still going to be smaller than PokerStars and FullTilt Poker guaranteed Sunday prizes, which often range into the millions, the six-figure guarantees should help draw a significantly larger community of players. It’s the next plateau in what might be a serious of prize level increases in the next few months and years.
Building Towards Something Large
What Caesars Interactive is trying to do is build towards much larger prize pools, in the millions of dollars. The more gamblers join tournaments, the more money that can be guaranteed by the website. If the current move leads to larger gaming communities in the Saturday and Sunday night events, then 888Poker and WSOP dotcom can offer even bigger prize pools.
The move by Caesars Interactive might be in anticipation of the entry of PokerStars into the New Jersey market. At present, PokerStars’s application process is suspended, because of bad actor concerns. Now that Amaya Gaming owns Rational Group, which in turn owns PokerStars and FullTilt Poker, many believe it’s a matter of time before the world’s biggest online poker site will be licensed, legal, and regulated in the New Jersey market.
Hope to Overtake Borgata
Caesars Interactive, which owns both of the websites involved in the player-sharing arrangement, also might be making a move to overtake Borgata Online. Borgata was the leading online gaming company in the New Jersey market throughout late-2013 and 2014. Over the months, the Caesars Interactive websites combined to be a strong second to Borgata, but could never overtake their rival.
Both websites posted relatively disappointing numbers for their Internet card rooms, so this is one step which could increase those numbers and provide a built-in advantage for 888Poker and WSOP. At the end of the day, the movie is about money.
Divisions of Caesars Entertainment
Caesars Interactive is the online division of Caesars Entertainment. As such, it is a healthy corporate unit. Caesars has an unconventional corporate structure at the moment which is likely to become a source of contention in the court systems. Another division of the company, Caesars Entertainment Operations Company or CEOC, holds $18 billion of the gaming company’s $23 billion in debt. CEO Gary Loveman and the Board of Directors have been moving assets from CEOC for months, as if protecting those assets from an eventually bankruptcy.
If such a bankruptcy happens, then the major shareholders in CEOC are likely to want to seize company assets. In mid-December, Caesars announced that the first lienholders had agreed to a plan to reorganize the company once more, but it’s uncertain if the junior creditors will agree to that plan.