30 Dec

What 2015 Did (and Didn’t Do) for the US Online Poker Market

US Online Poker in 20152013 was a tremendous year for online poker in the US. Three states regulated the activity and launched internet poker rooms. As this fledgling industry prepares to enter its fourth year of operation, we’ll take a look at what 2015 did, and didn’t do, for US online poker.

The markets in question are, of course, Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey.  All three jurisdictions launched internet poker markets in 2013, in April, October and November respectively. Since then, despite an expected surge in jurisdictional regulation, no other US state has passed a bill to authorize online gambling.

Delaware Online Poker in 2015

Delaware made a huge move in early 2015 when the state finalized its shared liquidity agreement with Nevada to combine online poker player bases on 888-powered WSOP NV and all three Delaware poker sites. It represented the first—and currently only—time a US-regulated poker network has pooled players across state lines.

Unfortunately, the move did little to propagate growth among either states’ poker rooms.

In fact, revenue reports for Delaware online poker show the activity was much more popular when it first launched, generating $106k worth of rake in its peak month of operation, December 2013, but just under $29k in the latest reporting period, November 2015.

Nevada Online Poker in 2015

Evaluating the condition of Nevada’s online poker market became a lot harder in early 2015 when the state’s number of active gaming sites dropped back down to just two (WSOP.com and RealGaming.com). According to state regulations, Nevada is only required to publish revenue reports if there are 3+ active operators, thus we have no clue what financial shape the Silver State’s market is really in.

What we do know is that Nevada’s US online poker market is struggling. Traffic tracking analyst PokerScout showed an immense surge of about 60% in player participation during the start of the 2015 World Series of Poker in late May, but those numbers have since fallen back to their regular average of about 160 (WSOP and Delaware combined).

The fact that only two sites exist – only one with any meaningful amount of traffic (RealGaming is estimated at just 4 avg players) – has to say something for the flagging state of the market.

New Jersey Online Poker in 2015

While the online gambling industry in New Jersey grew as a whole, it was internet casino activity that got all the glory this year. The online poker side of the industry saw revenue fall 20% compared to 2014 as players left the virtual tables in search of wagers that didn’t require the activity of other players.

Despite a less than stellar year, something miraculous did happen to the New Jersey online poker market in 2015. A few months ago, PokerStars received the approval of state gaming regulators – something the operator and NJ players have been waiting a very long three years for.

With that said, there’s great hope for 2016, as Amaya has projected the launch of PokerStars NJ to occur sometime in the first half of next year.