10% Fall in NJ Online Poker Shows Need for Michigan in Shared Liquidity

Online poker in the Garden State has been stagnant since the pandemic. Breaking out of that funk will require Michigan regulators to authorize operators in that state to launch multi-state online poker.
10% Fall in NJ Online Poker Shows Need for Michigan in Shared Liquidity
September 27, 2022

New Jersey online poker rooms saw revenue drop 10% year-to-year, further illustrating that the market is unlikely to grow without Michigan’s full participation in a multi-state poker compact.

Online poker in the Garden State made $2.2 million in August, according to data from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE). That marked a 3.5% decline month-to-month ($2.3 million), but more critically it was off 10% from August 2021 ($2.4 million).

It was also the 13th consecutive month where the vertical failed to exceed $2.6 million. It’s a range that, while bigger than the pre-pandemic period, shows a stagnant online poker market.

PokerStars NJ Slips Into Third Place

Caesars, through its WSOP NJ and 888 NJ partners, stayed ahead of its rivals for a fourth consecutive month by generating $850k in online poker revenue. But August was Caesars’ worst month for revenue since April ($789k), and its poker rooms saw revenue decline of 12% year-to-year from $965k.

BetMGM Poker NJ, which operates under the Borgata license, reclaimed second place from PokerStars NJ and was the only operator who saw a month-to-month increase in revenue in August, grossing $725k. BetMGM was down 9.4% from August 2021 ($800k).

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In the end, PokerStars, on the Resorts license, only got to enjoy being in second place for one month. Before July, it had been in third place for the previous 19 consecutive months.

PokerStars made $623k in August, down 8.1% year-to-year ($678k).

MI Operators Not Authorized to Launch Multi-State Poker Yet

Michigan officially signed the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) in April, expanding the compact to four states. The others are Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey.

But although Michigan has joined MSIGA, its three Michigan online poker apps — BetMGM Poker MI, PokerStars MI, and WSOP MI — have yet to officially launch multi-state poker. That’s because none has been cleared to launch yet by the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB).

To date, the MGCB has declined to comment on the authorization process. Operators must satisfy several conditions and requirements — many required by MSIGA itself — before being allowed to launch by the state regulator.

Pennsylvania, another state with legal regulated online poker, is considering joining MSIGA as well, but it’s unclear whether Democratic Governor Tom Wolf will add the Keystone State to the compact before leaving office in January.

Addition of MI and PA Online Poker Rooms Can’t Come Soon Enough

New Jersey’s online poker market will get a boost once operators in Michigan are cleared to launch multi-state poker. Adding Pennsylvania into the mix someday would also be a tremendous benefit.

A comparison of cash game traffic in all three states illustrates how big of a boost the Garden State could receive.

According to cash game traffic data provided by GameIntel, made available through the Poker Industry PRO Data platform, the 30-day moving average of concurrent cash game players on WSOP PA averaged 67 on the first day of the month for every month in Q3 2022 — so, July 1, August 1, and September 1. The same average was 58 on WSOP MI.

But for the WSOP/888 US Network — which includes WSOP NV, WSOP NJ, and 888poker NJ, and remains the only network so far to take advantage of shared liquidity through MSIGA — the average was 264. The higher average illustrates how valuable MSIGA is to WSOP.

PokerStars and BetMGM (which includes Borgata and partypoker) have similar averages. For PokerStars, their online poker rooms in Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania averaged 138, 69, and 202 concurrent cash game players, respectively, on the first day of every month in Q3. At BetMGM, those figures were 74, 87, and 45, respectively.

Once Michigan fully launches, PokerStars and BetMGM can connect their Michigan player pools to New Jersey. The same would benefit if Pennsylvania joined, too.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem and wants help, call the Virginia Council on Problem Gambling (VACPG) helpline at 1-888-532-3500

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