The Delaware online poker forecast has seen a slight break in the clouds, but don’t put your umbrella away just yet.
Delaware’s racinos aren’t about to throw wild celebrations over the latest numbers to come out of the state’s online gambling market, but August at least saw revenues move in the right direction. According to the latest figures released by the Delaware Lottery, online poker revenues were up more than 10 percent compared to July, with the state’s poker rooms generating an underwhelming $31,248 in the past month.
Year-Over-Year Revenues Down Significantly
That’s still a drop in the bucket, and represents a 20-percent decline when compared to August 2014. But considering the struggles the state has had in even maintaining a very small flow of traffic to its online poker network, any increase at all has to be seen as a positive sign by the three racetracks running the state’s Internet gambling sites.
Getting firm traffic figures for Delaware’s online poker operations is a difficult task, as the state network shares a player base with WSOP.com in Nevada. The combined poker room has averaged about 150 cash game players over the past week, according to PokerScout, and it is certain that most of that number comes from the Nevada side.
Overall, online gambling revenues in Delaware totaled just under $159,000, a 12 percent increase over the previous month and the highest total so far in 2015. As with the poker revenues, though, the state is facing a year-over-year decline of eight percent for its overall Internet gaming market.
Delaware Park remains the largest of the three racetrack casinos in the state, bringing in about 70 percent of online poker revenues, far more than Harrington and Dover Downs combined. While all three tracks feed into the same virtual poker room, the three collect revenues based on from which web portal they enter the network.
New Jersey Market Also Struggling
The news in Delaware mirrors that in New Jersey, where month-over-month increases are a positive that might deflect some attention from an annual decline. According to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, Atlantic City casinos collected $1.98 million in revenue through online poker in August, up more than five percent from July.
Both of the major networks saw their revenues climb during the month. The Borgata/partypoker partnership brought in more than $1 million, while the Caesars-backed sites (WSOP.com and 888) combined for more than $930,000 in revenue.
But the longer-term story paints a bleaker picture. Compared to August 2014, last month’s figures were down almost 12 percent, even while total iGaming revenues were up nearly 16 percent over the same period.
That has been a constant in New Jersey, where poker revenues have fallen even while the overall online gambling market has actually been doing quite well. Similar trends have been reported in Europe and other jurisdictions as well, where poker has become an increasingly smaller slice of the Internet gaming pie.
Solutions for this problem have been proposed. One of the most obvious would be to combine currently ring-fenced markets to improve liquidity, a critical indicator of health for poker rooms. In the United States, that could mean bringing New Jersey into the same network as Delaware and Nevada, though it would probably take major state markets like California to regulate online poker to secure the long-term health of the sites.
The European national markets are doing better in terms of raw numbers, but the downward trends are the same. Regulators in the EU have talked about the possibility of combining markets like Italy, France, and Spain, but there has been little movement on this front so far.