Caesars Interactive Entertainment‘s WSOP.com and 888 Poker network of online poker sites have become the new king of the hill in New Jersey. Only there’s really not much of a hill to speak of. Plus, there are clear signs its days on top of the NJ online poker market could be numbered.
PokerStars NJ launched in the spring of 2016. It became the New Jersey online poker market revenue leader right out of the gate. In fact, it has held on to the top spot every month since April 2016.
However, New Jersey signed on to the Multi-State Internet Gaming Association (MSIGA) late last year. This allowed the WSOP.com and 888 Poker sites in the state to combine player pools with partner sites in Nevada and Delaware beginning April 30. And now, in May 2018, the WSOP-888 network out-earned PokerStars NJ for the first time ever.
The WSOP-888 network’s share of the NJ online poker market jumped from 35 percent in April 2018 to 44 percent a month later.
In fact, the network enjoyed 42 percent revenue growth. It pulled in a market-leading $770,348 in gross revenue in the Month of May. A number that put it ahead of PokerStars NJ and its $716,668 in gross monthly revenue. Plus, it absolutely crushed the $449,426 in revenue the network itself posted back in April.
NJ online poker market in decline
The only thing stopping this from being a complete success story is the fact the already-struggling NJ online poker market as a whole continued to decline.
In fact, total online poker revenue in New Jersey dipped from $2,119,885 in May 2017 to $1,929,693 last month.
So while the WSOP-888 network was growing, PokerStars NJ revenues dropped 25.6 percent, the Borgata-MGM-partypoker network revenues dropped 27.8 percent, and total online poker revenues in New Jersey were down nine percent.
Caesars currently enjoys an online poker monopoly in Delaware and Nevada. As a result, it is the sole beneficiary of interstate online poker. It is the only player in the game. Which is precisely why it has moved on top in New Jersey.
But it’s easy to see it won’t stay there. Unless it makes some major changes.
Online poker software is key
PokerStars didn’t become the world’s largest online poker site by dominating fenced-in markets with laws protecting it from competition. It did it by offering superior online poker software.
If the first of four World Series of Poker online bracelet events on the WSOP-888 network this month is any indication, the network’s software has a long way to go before it can even compare.
The event managed to draw the largest field ever for a WSOP online bracelet event. However, it could have been even bigger if not for some major software glitches.
A number of players got a message indicating they’d already registered when they hadn’t, shutting them out. Plus, even though there were unlimited re-entries, the software allowed players only 30 seconds to buy back in after going broke. A restriction that made it impossible to make a deposit in time.
The PokerStars threat looms
PokerStars isn’t currently in this new tri-state online poker market.
But it will presumably jump in the new Pennsylvania online poker market when it launches. That puts it on track to begin offering multi-state online poker just as soon PA becomes the fourth state to sign on to MSIGA. Give it about a year before that happens.
The WSOP-888 network has become the new king of the online poker hill in New Jersey for two reasons. First, the launch of tri-state online poker. Second, the fact it is the only player in that game.
Once the market grows and other teams are allowed on the pitch, its time on top will likely come to an abrupt end. That is unless the organization comes realizes that software is the key to success in the online poker market, and does something about its product.