Will online poker continue to thrive after COVID-19?

For two months in a row, the New Jersey online poker industry has put up record numbers. Much of that is due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has kept land-based casinos in New Jersey closed since March. The New Jersey online poker market was struggling for some time before the COVID-19 outbreak, so the big question is whether or not the industry can sustain its newfound momentum.

Since the launch of poker apps in New Jersey in 2013, the market has failed to live up to its potential. There was a brief boom when online poker was first introduce and another when the sites began to share player pools with other states. The arrival of PokerStars New Jersey generated plenty of hype, but it was not enough to revive the stagnant industry in the Garden State.

Online poker revenue has been significant in the last two months, reaching $5.1 million in April. Before the pandemic, New Jersey poker revenue was clocking in at $1.5-$2 million per month.

When the New Jersey casinos closed their doors in mid-March, the state’s online poker market began the thrive. That month alone, the revenue for the online poker industry was $3.6 million. It was only the third month since online poker became legal in New Jersey that revenue was over $3 million. The other occasions were January and February of 2013 – the first two months after the Garden State legalized online poker.

One of the main reasons that online poker in New Jersey is flourishing is that online operators were quick to alter tournament schedules. All World Series of Poker Circuit events were moved online to WSOP.com and the Online Super Circuit was very successful. Right after that, WSOP launched its Spring Online Championship. That series, which had a shared player pool with Delaware and Nevada, saw the guaranteed prize pool surpassed for almost every event.

The date for the popular PokerStars NJSCOOP series was moved up to its earliest-ever start date. PartyPoker New Jersey used its platform to host the Borgata Spring Poker Open having not run a poker tournament since 2019.

New Jersey online poker revenue for April this year came in at $5.1 million, which was a 41.8% increase over the previous month and a whopping 208.7% increase over April of 2019. The revenue totals for the NJ’s three poker sites were as follows:

  • PokerStars New Jersey – $2.1 million, which was an increase of 77.9% over the previous month and a 269.6% increase over April 2019.
  • WSOP.com – $1.8 million, which was an increase of 13.3% over the previous month and a 159.4% increase over April 2019.
  • PartyPoker New Jersey – $1.2 million, which was an increase of 47.9% over the previous month and a 212.07% increase over April 2019.

We will have to wait and see if the online poker industry in New Jersey continues to thrive when the lockdown is lifted and the land-based casinos reopen. Will there be a decline in the industry, or will new players brought to the virtual tables during the pandemic keep showing up?

The May revenue numbers for online poker are expected to show similarly strong results. However, it remains to be seen if that will continue once the poker tables at Atlantic City casinos start welcoming back players.

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