Delaware has reported a 77 percent year-on-year decrease in its online poker revenues for December 2014, a yield of just $28,589.
That makes last month the lowest in 13 underwhelming months since the state began its online poker operations. Interstate liquidity sharing cannot come soon enough, it seems.
Operations began brightly enough in November 2013, with a weekly cash game average of 22 players, and December 2013 yielded a peak of just over $100,000 in total revenue.
But unfortunately it’s been downhill ever since; today there are barely enough players, on average, to scrape together one six-handed SnG.
Lowest in the World
December 2014 was 9.6 percent lower than the previous month, with Delaware Park and Dover Downs turning in their second-lowest total ever, with $15,964 and $7,625, respectively, while Harrington brought in just $4,999.
In fact, overall, cash game revenues have consistently been the lowest of any state or nationally-regulated market anywhere in the world.
When HB 333, the bill that legalized online poker in Delaware, was signed into law by Governor Jack Markell just a day after it was passed in the state senate, its backers were proclaiming revenue projection of $7.75 million per year for state coffers, which seems ludicrous for a state with a population of just 925,749, as per the census of 2003.
And so it proved. With a limited population and a ring-fenced market, player liquidity is a huge issue for Delaware.
It tried to solve this issue by demanding that its three licensed operators share the player pool, but this in turn creates marketing problems; essentially three companies are competing for the same players while offering the same games and tournament pools.
And this is reflected in the figures: last month there were just 256 new sign-ups across all three operators, the lowest on record.
Liquidity or Death
However, there is hope. Delaware has already signed a liquidity-sharing compact with Nevada.
Meanwhile, over in New Jersey 888.com, which provides, the platform for all three of Delaware’s operators, has begun sharing liquidity between its New Jersey site and WSOP.com New Jersey, for which it is also a software provider.
Almost overnight, they have overtaken party / Borgata as the top operators in the Garden State.
Meanwhile, similar plans have been approved by regulators in Nevada, and it’s thought that these intrastate networks will form the blueprint for eventual interstate networks on the 888 platform.
Interstate liquidity sharing will bump up cash game traffic, increase tournament prize pools and give individual operators a better return on their marketing spend, exactly what Delaware needs if it is to save its ailing online poker industry.
With the prospect of regulation for California just around the corner, a potentially huge market, and a new openness in California draft bills towards pool-sharing there, Delaware does have a chance to make this work.
However, it needs help, and sooner rather than later.