Will Pennsylvania Join the Interstate iPoker Liquidity Pact?April 19, 2018 9:12 am
This week, it was announced that the USA’s online poker market is set to receive a boost on May 1st after New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware enact their interstate player pooling agreement. The latter two states have relatively small markets, though, meaning that the situation is unlikely to change in a meaningful way until other states decide to join their shared poker network, with all eyes currently on Pennsylvania which passed iGaming legislation last October.
Nevertheless, Nevada and Delaware’s poker market hasn’t improved much since being combined in 2015, while New Jersey only decided to join their Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) after seeing its poker revenues slide consistently over the past few years. As things stand, the Keystone State is therefore unlikely to be too inspired to action by the MSIGA, and there are a number of different factors that Pennsylvania will currently be considering before deciding whether or not to throw in its lot with the country’s other regulated states.
Next month’s expanded MSIGA will cover a population area of roughly 13 million people when it goes live, with its population distribution as follows; New Jersey (9m), Nevada (3m), Delaware (1m). Moreover, any significant traffic is currently generated by New Jersey, while the shared WSOP NV/DE Lottery network is currently showing a 24 hour peak of just 45 cash game players over a 24 hour period on PokerScout.
Pennsylvania with almost 13 million people, however, has the potential to immediately double the size of the poker player pool, resulting in a win-win situation for all parties concerned.
Most people consider gambling as a recreational pastime, with its main objective being to entertain whilst providing an opportunity to win money. This may be true of such games as sports betting, casino table games, and horse racing, but online poker is a difficult sell in the US due to a small regulated market which affords players limited choices and options when it comes to cash games and tournaments.
Moreover, unlike a few years back, online poker these days is dominated by more experienced and skillful players, offering less attractive odds for gamblers compared to other games and options, and resulting in a lot less exciting opportunities for players than in the early 2000s.
Pennsylvania is the USA’s second biggest casino market, and it continues to grow with the $3.227 billion it generated in 2017 besting the record set only the previous year of $3.213 billion. In addition, the state’s casino market is expected to soon swell to 13 venues, with even more gambling opportunities also made available through the introduction of new mini casinos throughout the state, as well as slot machines being featured at numerous truck stops and airports.
Meanwhile, gambling is not the only product heading online, with temporary regulations already in place for the state’s lottery. Throw in the possibility of sports betting being approved following a successful outcome to New Jersey’s PASPA challenge in the Supreme Court, and then it becomes apparent that online poker has a great deal of competition for gaming dollars, with its traditionally youthful demographic likely to be drawn away towards many of the other gambling options available.
More Players Needed
In conclusion, the country’s online poker industry is likely to continue suffering lower monthly revenues and lose out to other gambling products unless it succeeds in attracting more players. While hopes currently hang on Pennsylvania joining New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware’s interstate player pooling network, this can only act as a temporary catalyst, with other states subsequently needed to follow suit in order to create a flourishing environment with long term potential. The subsequent addition of California and New York, for instance, may signal the start of an online poker renaissance in the US.