Online poker in the state of New Jersey achieved a rare milestone last month: it achieved year-over-year growth. Combined, licensed operators reported revenues of $1.8 million in February.
Though modest, the 2% annual growth last month represents the first time the market has achieved that distinction since last June and only the second month of annual growth in the last two years.
The rooms are skins on the All American Poker Network (AAPN), which allows them to offer their customers the same virtual poker ring game tables and tournaments. The AAPN also provides its online poker platform to players in Nevada and Delaware under the MultiState Internet Gaming Agreement (MIGA), allowing players in all three states to compete against each other at the same tables.
- Largest player pool in New Jersey
- Compete for World Series of Poker bracelets from New Jersey
- Great Sign up bonus and player rewards
The other two online poker networks in New Jersey (PokerStars and the partnership between Borgata and partypoker) do not yet have online poker operations in any other US state, thereby limiting their ability to expand their potential player pool and stunting their growth.
To understand the significance of multistate shared liquidity, one only needs to compare the revenue figures from February 2018 (before New Jersey cleared its first operator to share liquidity across state lines) to those from the same period this year.
PokerStars was down annually by 19%, Borgata/partypoker was down 14%, and WSOP/888 (with the benefit of a three-state shared liquidity pool) was up 44%.
In fact, every month since given the green light for cross-border shared liquidity, the rooms on the AAPN have produced significant annual growth while the other operators have experienced declines. In that time, the decreases by the rest of the market were so significant that the AAPN managed to buoy the market only twice, despite its tremendous success.
The Darkness and Light Ahead for US Online Poker
For as successful as shared liquidity has been for the AAPN, its future is in jeopardy. Earlier this year, the US Department of Justice released a revised opinion on the Wire Act which has the potential of derailing online gaming that crosses state lines.
The DOJ has given operators until June 14 to comply with the new opinion that the Wire Act applies to all online gambling and not just sports betting, as the previous opinion by the DOJ stated.
The U-turn by the DOJ has prompted a slew of legal action, that proponents of online poker hope will result in the latest opinion being overturned.
Meanwhile, the prospect of generating tax revenue from online poker seems to be catching on in other states.
Pennsylvania is the next state slated to launch an online poker market, with virtual poker games expected to go live by late June or early July. And, as long as shared liquidity gets sorted out at the federal level, regulators there seem intent on joining New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware in the MultiState Internet Gaming Agreement.
West Virginia will likely be the next state to legalize online poker. iGaming legislation has passed through both the House and Senate and will become law if the governor takes no action (does not veto it) or signs the bill into law.
In Michigan (where the governor vetoed legislation late last year that would have legalized online poker), lawmakers have renewed efforts to pass online gaming legislation. With a new governor at the helm in The Great Lakes State, hopes are high that 2019 will be the year online poker makes it on the books.
If the industry can clear the hurdle recently put into place by the DOJ, online poker is positioned to see many more good months ahead.