Is The US Online Poker Market Ready To Boom Or Bust?

Written By Martin Derbyshire on November 28, 2017 - Last Updated on September 28, 2023
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Up until the fourth quarter of 2017, there really hasn’t been much to say about legal and regulated online poker in the United States. Except maybe that is has been a disappointment.

The markets in New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware, have remained rather small through their three years in existence.

New Jersey is the biggest. New Jersey online gambling sites have been breaking records. They posted $196.7 million in revenues last year. Plus, they have already surpassed $200 million in 2017 with November and December still to come. However, online poker represents less than 10 percent of that.

In Nevada, players flock to the state’s World Series of Poker-branded online poker site. But only when the WSOP rolls into Las Vegas for June and July. Once the online satellites and online WSOP bracelet events wrap up, the market seems to dry up with it.

In the meantime, the numbers in Delaware have been too small to be considered significant.

Hope for improvements came in 2015 when Nevada and Delaware signed share online poker player pools. However, neither side has really seen numbers jump in a real way since then.

The traffic on offshore and unregulated online poker sites that still accept US players remains solid. That’s enough to suggest the market for online poker is still here. It’s simply that the fenced-in markets in the US aren’t big enough to attract the masses.

Legal and regulated operators had to be scratching their heads as to how to change things. That is, until the fourth quarter of 2017, when suddenly the outlook for online poker in the US started looking better than it ever has.

The US online poker outlook improves

New Jersey signed on to the shared player pool agreement with Nevada and Delaware. Once sites get the necessary regulatory approval and start accepting players from all three states, the US online poker market could potentially double. That means more cash games and tournaments with bigger prize pools that are sure to draw even more players in.

Pennsylvania also jumped in the fray in October of this year. The state passed a comprehensive PA gambling expansion bill that includes legal and regulated online poker. The bill also includes language allowing the state to jump in the interstate shared player pool agreement with New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware in the future.

But it’s about more than just adding another potential 13 million more players to the interstate pool. Pennsylvania could represent the key to unlocking online poker all across the country.

New York could be next

Seeing Pennsylvania make a play for the revenue online gambling could give New York the impetus it needs to finally pass its own online poker legislation. The NY Senate has passed online poker legislation two years running, only to see it languish in the Assembly.

New legislative procedures will give the online poker bill a head start this year. Add in that push from Pennsylvania and 2018 just might be the year for online poker in New York.

If it is, expect Michigan online gambling, and even California online gambling, to get in on the growing market as well. Even online gambling in IL is a possibility.

The year 2017 didn’t start out as the best one for online poker in the US, and the numbers throughout have been less than impressive. However, 2017 is coming to a close with the US online poker market looking like it has more potential to boom than bust.

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Martin Derbyshire

Martin Derbyshire has more than ten years of experience reporting on the poker, online gambling, and land-based casino industries for a variety of publications including Bluff Magazine, PokerNews, and PokerListings. He has traveled extensively, attending tournaments and interviewing major players in the gambling world.

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