Poker Struggling Overall In New Jersey: Will Pennsylvania Share Its Players?

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The third quarter of 2019 is in the books with all of the major players in New Jersey’s active poker market turning in their results for the month of September.

The poker players in New Jersey continue to enjoy a wide variety of events, both live and online, including the recently completed PokerStars 2019 New Jersey Championship of Online Poker and the World Poker Tour’s WPT Borgata Open in Atlantic City.

However, as good as it is for the consumers, the numbers show that for the companies that provide those events, poker is taking a dip, on all fronts, year over year.

Online poker takes breath

PokerStarsNJ, BorgataPoker.com and WSOP.com continue to battle it out atop New Jersey’s online poker market. But it’s been clear for some time that WSOP.com’s ability to combine their player pools from Nevada and New Jersey are simply too much for Borgata or PokerStars to overcome right now.

The online arm of the World Series of Poker is one of the only entities, live or online, to see their bottom line go up in 2019 through the third quarter as compared to the same time frame in 2018.

According to New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement, in 2018, WSOP took in just over $5.77 mm through September. In 2019 however, customers have been flowing to the 888poker-powered platform as they have seen gains in seven of the nine months this year.

WSOP.com saw a nice surge in the summer months, especially in June, as, amid some doubt, they were cleared to offer New Jersey players the ability to win a coveted WSOP gold bracelet online. This past June, WSOP turned in the largest gains of the past two years through nine months.

Last year at this time, PokerStars, through their partnership with Resorts Casino Hotel, was leading all three brands with over $6.2 mm in revenue. This year, the online giant has seen a 13.3% dip year over year, reporting just under $5.4 mm. It was just announced that PokerStars will be launching a second online site in the state of Pennsylvania on Nov. 4 which, down the road, could lend to their New Jersey numbers should PA be able to find a path to joining the multi-state player pool.

For the Borgata, who has a stranglehold on New Jersey’s live poker scene, the returns keep going in the wrong direction. Tasked with battling the brand power of two of the largest poker entities on the planet, the hotel’s online arm has also seen an overall dip in 2019. Through September, they are down 12.7% versus their 2018 numbers. It’s not all bad news for the Borgata when it comes to online poker though, they did make more money this September than they did last September, a first for 2019.

All three combined, online poker has simply taken a roughly 2% step back in the first nine months of 2019.

Slower going on the live scene

We took a look at six of the casinos that offer live poker in New Jersey to get a snapshot of how 2019 is looking on the live front. Like online poker, the numbers show a step back as, across the board, live card rooms are reporting lower totals.

The Borgata Casino Hotel & Spa is, by far, the largest live poker room in Atlantic City with a fluctuating floor of live poker tables that, during a major live tournament, can hold over 100 tables at a time. Although they have had two months early in the year where their bottom line surpassed their reports in 2018, overall the room has seen a slight dip in revenue. The $424k difference only a represents 3% downturn for the Borgata that has collected over $14.1 mm so far in 2019.

The same step-back trend can be seen in every other poker room regardless of size. The Golden Nugget, one of the smallest poker rooms, actually removed a poker table in late 2018 to drop the room to nine total tables. Even though they had an uptick at the beginning of the year, they have seen an 8.6% drop in revenue.

While the World Series of Poker’s online poker site saw an nice bump, Bally’s 42 table World Series of Poker branded room has not seen the same gains. In fact, the second largest poker room in the area, has taken a 20% hit in 2019 with revenues coming in at $1.67 mm in 2019 compared to the $2.11 mm in revenue generated in the same time frame last year.

The wider view shows a bigger drop in the overall revenue on the live scene, as the six reporting casinos show a 9.6% drop in revenue to $21.3 mm. This includes the income from the recently opened Ocean Casino Resort’s eight-table room which had only been reporting since June of last year.

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Jeff Walsh

Jeff Walsh has been a member of the poker media for over seven years and currently serves as the Senior Writer for the leading online poker website PocketFives.com. He is also a contributor to the Sports Handle/US Bets network of sites.

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