The one-year anniversary of Pennsylvania sports betting and its more than $1 billion in wagers may be occupying the headlines today. PokerStars Pennsylvania deserves some time in the spotlight too though after a stellar opening month.
PokerStars PA has $2 million debut
The online poker side of PokerStars PA managed to almost double the revenue PokerStars Casino took in over the course of November. The rake and tournament fees from November came to just shy of $2 million. This even though there were minimal offerings during the three-day test period and the site only launched on Nov. 4.
While the narrative in New Jersey is that online casino dwarfs online poker when it comes to revenue, the first month of Pennsylvania online poker far surpassed the online casino market’s July debut. Over the first two weeks of operation, online casinos produced less than $850,000 in revenue compared to the numbers Stars produced on its own.
There is reason to believe December will blow November numbers out of the water too. Only one day of PACOOP tournament series action took place in November. The rest of the online series, which vastly exceeded PokerStars’ expectations, ran during December, wrapping up on Dec. 16. The final day of action boasted over 2,000 active seats on the site.
Is New Jersey reason to be cautiously optimistic?
As is always the case when comparing New Jersey and Pennsylvania gambling, numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, we can potentially learn some lessons, particularly about how New Jersey online poker also started very strong but is currently struggling.
When New Jersey online poker launched in November 2013, it was only a small soft launch that did not start until Nov. 21. With the limited month of action, there was only $327,000 in revenue. December was comparable to Pennsylvania’s opening month, with just over $1.7 million in revenue.
By January though, there were two major operators, WSOP.com and partypoker, that produced $3.4 million in revenue. It was New Jersey’s biggest month ever, and that sustained for a few months before starting to level off. As the weather warmed up though, the interest in poker dropped substantially. During the summer of 2014, most months produced around $2 million in revenue.
Fast forward to January 2015 and revenue was stalled at $2.3 million. By the time PokerStars entered New Jersey in March of 2016, the combined sites were struggling to produce even $2 million in revenue a month. The new operator injected some life into the market, but like the initial interest, it was short-lived.
Online poker in New Jersey has not produced a month with more than $2 million in revenue since August 2017. November, the Garden State arguably felt some of the pain of Pennsylvania’s launch too. With less than $1.5 million in revenue, it is the worst month the state has had since it launched six years ago.
New Jersey vs. Pennsylvania online poker
There is a reason people were impatient for online poker to get started in the Keystone State. With over 12 million residents, compared to New Jersey’s 9 million, it is the most populous state with regulated online poker. It will even hold that title when/if Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signs the Michigan online poker bill into law.
In the short term, it seems like there is no question December will be huge for PA online poker, perhaps even bigger than New Jersey. What is still uncertain is if Pennsylvania can find a way to keep thriving when New Jersey could not.