If Gambling Is A Numbers Game, New Jersey And WSOP Won The Week

Written By Jessica Welman on July 16, 2017 - Last Updated on December 21, 2021
wooden numbers game

When it comes to gambling, numbers are king. Be it hitting the right number on the roulette wheel or calculating the odds in a big poker hand, numbers decide everything.

It is no wonder then that this week’s headlines focused on some big numbers coming out of both New Jersey and Nevada’s World Series of Poker (WSOP). While these states thrive though, Pennsylvania is stuck in neutral and trying to dig out of a $1.2 billion budgetary hole. Online casinos could be the difference in the state’s struggles, but the bill regulating it is on hold and may not see a resolution until the fall.

New Jersey’s June saved by online gambling

The overall numbers for Atlantic City casino revenues in June were pretty comparable to 2016, with just over a one percent increase. The revenues would be down though were it not for another strong performance from online gambling sites.

New Jersey online casinos posted over $20 million in revenue for the fourth consecutive month. The $20.2 million in earnings marks a 23.4 percent increase over last year’s revenue. Thanks to the solid performance, the total take of online casinos in New Jersey since its inception now sits at over $600 million.

It was not all good news on the online gambling front though. It was a historic low for online poker. The sites collectively took in just over $1.7 million. Some of the decline can be blamed on summer weather pushing people outside.

The WSOP in Nevada also drew several regular NJ online poker players to Nevada with its summer series, which explains at least a portion of the decline.

WSOP draws third-largest Main Event ever…but why?

If June numbers in New Jersey were down because of WSOP, then July numbers likely will not be very pretty either. After all, this year’s WSOP Main Event drew a ton of players, 7,221 to be exact. The turnout resulted in the third-largest Main Event in the series’ history, trailing only 2006 and 2010.

What prompted the uptick in attendance is up for debate. It could be the flatter payout structures. It could be the expanded ESPN coverage. Or it could be the lack of a November Nine.

Over at US Poker, two writers each took a crack at trying to explain the attendance boost. Martin Derbyshire thinks last year’s winner, Qui Nguyen, helped bring people to the game. Nguyen was the first amateur to win the event since Jerry Yang took the title in 2007.

Steve Ruddock, on the other hand, dove into the numbers and thinks there is a chance this year was just an outlier. Without knowing how many new players turned up this summer, it is difficult to tell if poker is actually growing or not.

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Pennsylvania punts on online gambling bill

There were high hopes for online gambling enthusiasts in Pennsylvania this week. Unfortunately, those fans will be waiting a little longer to see if the state’s gambling expansion bill goes through.

The legislature is on recess after passing a budget approved by Gov. Tom Wolf. However, what they have not figured out is how to pay for it. So, even though the legislative session is over, there is still time for the gaming bill to pass. Lawmakers are on call, and a special session could happen with just six hours of notice.

Insiders in the Keystone State still believe the bill will pass. First it needs to get to a compromise on the polarizing issue of video gambling terminals (VGTs) though.

One opponent of online casinos in the state is Sheldon Adelson, who owns Sands Bethlehem. The casino mogul says there are not enough protections in place online to make sure underage players don’t play. However, while the three states with regulated online gambling have never had an incident of a minor playing, Sands Bethlehem had 10 instances of underage players in the past six months alone.

The state gambling control board fined Sands $150,000 for the incidents. It is the casino in the state with, far and away, the most instances of minors drinking and gambling on the premises.

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Jessica Welman

Jessica Welman has worked as a tournament reporter for the World Poker Tour, co-hosted a podcast for Poker Road, and served as the managing editor for WSOP.com. A graduate of Indiana University and USC, Welman is not only a writer but also a producer. She can be found on Twitter @jesswelman.

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