Online casino revenues are leaving online poker in the dust in New Jersey, as highlighted by a new report from gaming research group GamblingCompliance this week.
The report, entitled US Internet Gambling In Focus: 2014 and 2015, starkly illustrates the growth disparity between casino, which has seen monthly revenue rise by 93 percent since launch of operations, and poker, which has declined by 29 percent during the same period.
These figures could be damaging for the future of interstate online poker legalization in the US, as they weigh heavily on the decisions of states currently debating whether to go poker-only.
Certain states, such as California, New York and Pennsylvania, are looking at this option, and the poor results in New Jersey are likely to have an impact on these efforts.
“In 2015, we expect the significant growth disparity between New Jersey Internet casino win and Internet poker win to be a key talking point in states that are weighing whether to legalize Internet poker, only,” said the Gambling Compliance Report.
California is Key
Ironically, California, New York and Pennsylvania together account for roughly 22 percent of the US population, which would be enough to create a healthy online poker ecology, should the concept of interstate player pool sharing become a reality, as is expected. However, California is the only state with a population that could be big enough to create a healthy player ecology by itself.
Previous drafts of online poker bills in California have been resistant to the idea of liquidity sharing, and it remains to be seen whether this year’s legislative efforts will ultimately result in a positive attitude to the opening of its borders.
Things are looking positive on that front, though: Gatto and Jones-Sawyer have removed language expressly prohibiting pool sharing, while the new Hall-Gray bill has yet to make up its mind.
The bottom line is that California (possibly) does not need the cooperation of other states, yet other states desperately need California.
Should California choose to legalize online poker in 2015 and share liquidity, other states will be compelled to follow, creating the potential for a strong US interstate market. But that remains a big “if.”
The ’Stars Question
Much, also, depends on whether PokerStars will be permitted to join a post-regulation landscape in California, as it is expected to do in New Jersey next month.
PokerStars’ marketing bucks could be just what New Jersey needs to reinvigorate its online poker market. Its entry into New Jersey and California, meanwhile, could facilitate interstate and, eventually, international pool-sharing.
Meanwhile, the draw of the PokerStars brand, and the promise of better liquidity and bigger prize pools, could be enough to draw US players away from the offshore markets, which have damaged the growth of the newly regulated markets.
Online poker may not be the rip-roaring success in New Jersey that the politicians touted pre-regulation, but it needs liquidity to thrive. Hopefully states currently weighing the benefits of that venture can see the bigger picture.