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The Center for Gambling Studies at the Rutgers University School of Social Work conducted a report for the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement regarding the demographics and patterns of online gamblers in the state. There was a specific focus on the use of responsible gaming features in order to ensure the safety of consumers and the effectiveness of the programs in place.

What came from the study was a plethora of information that online gambling operators can use in order to better serve customers, improve offerings, and grow the New Jersey online poker market. And while most of the statistics and findings encompassed the entire online gaming market, online poker companies – both those in the market now and others seeking to enter it in the future – can use the data to grow their customer base.

Limit-Setting Tools Encourage Responsible Gaming

New Jersey internet gaming sites are required to offer customers a variety of tools to help prevent or curb gambling problems, including the ability to limit deposits and losses, to exclude themselves for a “cool-off” period of at least 72 hours, or to self-exclude in perpetuity. Approximately 14% of all online gamblers in 2015 used one or more of the tools.

Center Director Lia Nower noted that players who used the self-limiting tools spent less money than those who did not use any of the responsible gaming features. “Next to self-excluding, setting deposit limits was the most popular feature, followed by limiting the amount of time spent gambling,” she said. Men were more likely to use several features, while women were more apt to self-exclude.

Nower concluded that the key to improving the effectiveness of responsible gaming is to “make sure the features are visible and accessible, to provide education on how to use the features, and to encourage players to opt-in at sign-up when they can make objective choices about their play.”

Online poker operators can use these facts and figures on a broader scale – outside the borders of New Jersey – as well as to prove to lawmakers in the United States and other yet-to-be-regulated markets that players have many options to ensure their own safety on the sites.

Crossover Promotions Work

A recent New Jersey gambling prevalence study used by Rutgers showed that only 5.3% of those sampled gambled only online, while 19.2% gambled online and at land-based casinos. Though most of them began to use the online sites before it was legalized by the state, one-third of them only started using the sites when it became legal.

Not only does this show that cross-promotions between the casinos and the online operators work, but many more people use both than just solely patronizing the online sites. And the number of new players since online gambling was legalized and launched indicates that more can be done to make New Jersey residents aware that the sites are now legal, regulated, and safe. In addition, promotions likely offer greater benefits when they are used with live and online sites concurrently.

Demographics Show Older Players and Women Underrepresented

There are some interesting numbers regarding gender:

  • Total online gambling (including casino and poker sites): 76.7% male, 23.2% female
  • Total casino-only online gamblers: 60% male, 40% female
  • Total poker-only online players: 91.6% male, 8.34% female
  • Total poker tournament-only online players: 88.5% male, 11.3% female

Women are almost as likely to play online casino games as men, but they are much less likely to focus solely on poker. This is largely due to online poker operators aiming marketing at men. Women are tremendously underrepresented in online poker, meaning the demographic is one in which growth could be phenomenal if women were targeted by advertisements focusing on the skill game, convenience, and anonymous aspects of online poker.

And then there were those regarding age:

  • Total online gambling (including casino and poker sites): 31.15% 25-34 group, 23.18% 35-44 group
  • Total casino-only online gamblers: Average age = 40, age range = 21 to 98 years old
  • Total poker-only online players: Average age = 35, age range = 21 to 92 years old
  • Total poker tournament-only online players: Average age = 38, age range = 21 to 88 years old

The overall range of player ages is encouraging, but the average ages in each group shows that older people are not encouraged to play online nearly as much as they are to patronize land-based casinos. Targeting retired residents of New Jersey could open up a new market to the online poker sites, as the skill game aspect would be appealing, as would be the ability to play for free or low stakes, chat with others online with similar interests, and play from the comfort of home.

Online poker operators continue to miss out on untapped demographics of online poker players who could not only diversify but provide significant growth for the sites and the burgeoning state-wide industry.

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Jennifer Newell

Jennifer has been a freelance writer in the poker industry for a decade. She left a full-time job with the World Poker Tour to tell the stories of poker. She now lives in St. Louis, writes about poker while pursuing other varied interests, and speaks her mind on Twitter… a lot.