How Would Pennsylvania Shared Liquidity Reshape US Online Poker? How Would Pennsylvania Shared Liquidity Reshape US Online Poker?

Our #GrowPApoker campaign has garnered great support from Pennsylvania online poker players, and the momentum continues to build with PokerStars and GGPoker now standing with us to advocate for shared liquidity in the state along with poker media outlets like PokerNews and Poker Org.

As we rally support for HB 2078, urging lawmakers to pave the way for Pennsylvania’s inclusion in the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA), it is crucial for players, especially those in the Keystone State, to join forces and keep the pressure on.

But what exactly does Pennsylvania’s entry into the multi-state online poker compact mean for the state and the broader US online poker market?

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As we know, the ability to combine player pools with those in other jurisdictions (called shared liquidity) is an important facet of online poker for players, operators, and the state. Players get the benefit of a wider selection of games and bigger tournament prize pools. Poker rooms and the state benefit from the additional revenue resulting from the increased play.

But let’s delve deeper into the potential impact:

Access to a Population Equivalent to Canada’s Size

Joining the MSIGA, alongside Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, Michigan, and West Virginia, holds immense promise for Pennsylvania. With a population of 13 million residents, Pennsylvania ranks as the fifth-largest US state by population. Should it join the MSIGA, the compact’s reach would significantly expand, encompassing nearly 40 million potential players, compared to the current 25 million.

A market reach of 40 million people would be equivalent to the market size of Canada which boasts a population of 38 million. Including Pennsylvania online poker in the compact would create the critical mass needed to build a robust and competitive market.

Even excluding states like Delaware and West Virginia, where online poker is not currently offered, a New Jersey-Nevada-Michigan-Pennsylvania compact would be a massive boost to real money US online poker as a whole.

It may also entice other US states like Illinois or New York to regulate online poker – both of which have been considering online poker regulation.

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Multi-State Online Poker Compact Participants

US States Online Poker Launched Joined MSIGA Population Active?
Delaware Nov 2013 Mar 2015 1.02 million No
Nevada Apr 2013 Mar 2015 3.18 million Yes
New Jersey Nov 2013 Oct 2017 9.26 million Yes
Michigan Jan 2021 May 2022 10 million Yes
West Virginia Not Yet Nov 2023 1.78 million No
Total 25.24 million
Pennsylvania Nov 2019 Not Yet 13 million Yes
Total 38.24 million

Cash Game Traffic Will Double Overnight

With Pennsylvania joining the compact, there will be a dramatic increase in the number of cash game players, benefiting not only Pennsylvania but also players across other states that are part of the compact.

Currently, Pennsylvania’s market size stands at approximately 300 filled cash game seats, with PokerStars PA commanding half of that share. However, this figure reflects a period of low traffic; during peak seasons, the total traffic approaches 400 cash game players.

Upon adding Pennsylvania’s player pool to PokerStars’ existing shared liquidity network, which spans Michigan and New Jersey, the combined pool would surge to around 350 cash game seats. This signifies a doubling in traffic for players on PokerStars PA, while players on PokerStars New Jersey and PokerStars Michigan would experience a 75% increase.

WSOP and BetMGM Poker would witness similar expansions should they merge their player pools with other states. Currently, WSOP operates a shared liquidity network between New Jersey and Nevada, boasting an average of about 200 cash game seats. Meanwhile, WSOP MI & WSOP PA each average around 50 concurrent cash game seats.

While the WSOP NJ/NV network is expected to experience a notable increase in its player pool, the impact will be particularly pronounced for players on WSOP MI & WSOP PA. Adding both Michigan and Pennsylvania would create the country’s first four-state poker network.

Recent indications suggest that WSOP is on the verge of upgrading its software in New Jersey & Nevada, facilitating the integration of Michigan into the existing network comprising New Jersey & Nevada.

BetMGM, currently without a shared liquidity network in the US, stands to undergo a similar expansion with the addition of both Michigan and Pennsylvania. The existing network in New Jersey hosts approximately 150 concurrent cash game seats, while Michigan and Pennsylvania each average around 70 seats. The integration of these three states would yield a player pool of 300. This would likely also prompt BetMGM to launch in Nevada, which as of today is still a year away.

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Bigger Tournament Series

There’s no doubt that operators will have the capacity to host larger tournament series as more states are integrated into the online poker network. Consider the example of PokerStars USA prior to the merger of Michigan and New Jersey. When these states operated independently, the PokerStars NJ COOP series featured $1 million in guarantees, while the COOP series at PokerStars MI boasted guarantees ranging from approximately $1.25 million to $1.5 million.

Following the merger, the combined USCOOP series expanded significantly, offering players in both states access to series with guaranteed prize pools ranging from $2.5 million to $3 million.

Likewise, upon the inclusion of PokerStars PA into the existing PokerStars MI-NJ network, the USCOOP series will experience further expansion. Presently, the PokerStars PA SCOOP series features $2.25 million in guarantees. With the addition of PokerStars PA, players can anticipate participating in the series with guaranteed prize pools reaching $5 million.

The same trend extends to WSOP and BetMGM. As Michigan and subsequently Pennsylvania join the fray, WSOP is likely to unveil a grand online bracelet series, featuring prize pools exceeding $2 million. BetMGM, on the other hand, could host even larger Championship series, with guarantees reaching $1.5 million to $2 million. Presently, their guarantees do not exceed $1 million.

Increased Revenue for Operators and State

It has been shown globally across multiple jurisdictions that combining player pools leads to increased revenue for online poker operators, which in turn provides increased tax revenue for the governments regulating the games.

PokerStars saw an immediate impact after merging its player pools in Michigan and New Jersey, experiencing a 43% year-over-year increase in revenues in New Jersey. Likewise, when WSOP combined New Jersey with Nevada and Delaware in mid-2018, the network quickly ascended to the top spot in the market. This move reversed the trend of consistent year-on-year double-digit revenue declines in New Jersey, transforming them into double-digit increases.

Pennsylvania joining the interstate online poker compact will not only benefit players but will extend to operators and state regulators.

Increased Competition

The inclusion of more states in the compact fosters increased competition among operators. Prior to Michigan’s entry into the compact, WSOP enjoyed a monopoly on shared liquidity, leveraging this unique offering. However, with Michigan’s integration, WSOP lost its exclusivity, and PokerStars became the second operator in the US to launch a shared liquidity network.

This move propelled PokerStars to the forefront, overtaking WSOP US as the largest network in the country in terms of cash game traffic.

Once Pennsylvania joins, the competition will likely further intensify. Operators like BetMGM, which have yet to implement a shared liquidity network, will find themselves compelled to do so. Launching an MI-NJ-PA network will not only be financially lucrative but also strategically advantageous. It may also incentivize them to expand their operations into smaller states like Nevada and West Virginia.

In essence, Pennsylvania’s participation in shared liquidity represents a significant step forward for both the state and the broader US online poker industry. It signifies a shift towards a more interconnected and prosperous future, where players can enjoy a thriving online poker experience like never before.

As we gear up for our May 7 social media push, let’s continue to champion #GrowPApoker and advocate for Pennsylvania’s entry into shared liquidity.