The US east coast online poker market is abuzz with rumblings over shared poker player pools. So far, New Jersey and Delaware have been able to successfully launch online poker options for online poker enthusiasts. As Pennsylvania gets ready to join the fray, there’s been much discussion about whether or not Pennsylvania is willing to let its players join in shared player pools with the other two states. As of now, the state is being very non-committal about sharing any liquidity.
When trying to interpret Pennsylvania’s position on the matter, one might think to look at how shared player pools have worked out for the states that are already involved. Based on initial reports, the results would seem to be mixed, which might account for Pennsylvania’s ambiguity.
In New Jersey, hopes were very high that participation in the Multi-State Internet Gaming Association would prove to be a boon for the state’s online poker revenues. Using the 888/WSOP platform, the early results looked promising as PokerStars fell behind. Unfortunately, the early gains didn’t hold. Nevada’s numbers came back fine, and Delaware was thrilled with the results, but New Jersey’s numbers left state officials perplexed. It turns out that participation in the MSIGA has little to no impact on online poker revenues.
Looking at the numbers and trying to come up with an explanation regarding the mixed results leads to nothing but conjecture. One possible theory pointed to the notion each state’s player mix could have created the issue. In Delaware, the population of players in the pool was smaller than the other participating states while the quality of players involved came from the upper echelons of the poker world. Meanwhile, New Jersey was seeing an influx of novice players who were quickly being eliminated from major pools by more experienced players. The theory could have merit, but there’s just not enough data to draw a proper conclusion.
If Pennsylvania was looking to make its decision about shared player pools based on the results from other participating states, they got very little to go on. It’s like trying to make online casino comparisons. There has to be enough conclusive data to illicit a decision, otherwise, any decision-making has to be placed on hold until the data is there.
Going forward, it is becoming clear that mass participation is going to be crucial for most states to meet online poker revenue projections. As things stand now, online poker is but a small percentage of the online casino numbers each state is expecting. The real test will come as more states join the fray. Should they choose to participate in the MSIGA or any other player pool organization, there’s going to have to be positive results across the board. Otherwise, some states will opt out of the shared player pool option or seek other beneficial arrangements.
The reality in US online casino gambling is very much in its infancy. There will be growing pains and a lot of questions that need to be answered over time.