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iGaming Revenue in Regulated States Inconsistent

Nearly 16 months of online poker in Nevada, and over nine months of online gambling in Delaware and New Jersey and we have yet to settle into any discernible pattern.

The industry is still new, and there will certainly be variance from month-to-month, but all things considered I think the word inconsistent is a good descriptive for the three legal U.S. online gambling markets thus far.

What was expected to be an industry that would see month-after-month of steady growth (with the occasional outlier of course) has proven to be extremely unpredictable in all three markets.

Both Nevada and New Jersey saw their markets level off far sooner than anticipated for a variety of reasons –People have pointed to payment processing, the intrusive sign up process, geolocation hiccups, poor marketing, and over-regulation as reasons for the stunted growth in the U.S.

But what is causing the inconsistency we see in the chart below? Where is the steady growth and market maturity?

  Nevada Delaware New Jersey
April 2013  $8.52 million*             
May 2013    
June 2013    
July 2013    
August 2013    
September 2013    
October 2013    
November 2013  $111k  $980k
December 2013  $140k  $7.39 million
January 2014  $146k  $9.46 million
February 2014  $824k  $167k  $10.31 million
March 2014  $926k  $207k  $11.88 million
April 2014  $792k  $241k  $11.43 million
May 2014  $862k  $175k  $10.47 million
June 2014  $1.04 million  $187k  $9.51 million
July 2014  $985k  $173k  $10.07 million

*The Nevada Gaming Control Board only began releasing monthly revenue data in March.

Seasonal trends certainly played a part, but in these nascent markets should they have been this impactful? Shouldn’t the markets continuing maturation have offset these historical slumps?

Furthermore, the peaks and valleys aren’t consistent across the three markets.

Delaware increased revenue by nearly 7% from May to June while New Jersey saw revenue decrease by more than 9% over the same time period.

Nevada’s biggest slump came in April of 2014, whereas Delaware had its best month in April 2014.

Nevada

There isn’t much rhyme or reason to be gleaned from the little data we have from Nevada –which is why it’s too bad we don’t have the monthly breakdowns for the period from April 2013-January 2014.

There was certainly a spike during the 2014 World Series of Poker, which ran from late-May to Mid-July, but perhaps not as much of a bump as expected, considering July’s numbers (the WSOP ended July 14) only bettered March’s revenue tally by about 6%, and July should have been the peak time for online poker play as players were in town by the thousands for the WSOP Main Event.

Even June, the first month where Nevada broke the $1 million mark was only up about 10% from March’s figures. A solid boost, but once again, perhaps not as large as expected.

That said, if we eliminate the disappointing revenue figures from April, and remove the WSOP bump, the Nevada online poker industry looks pretty consistent, and seems to have settled into revenue of about $900k.

You can view the Nevada revenue figures at gaming.nv.gov

Delaware

Delaware has been the most consistent of the three states in terms of sustaining growth (Delaware’s online gambling industry grew for five consecutive months from November 2013 to April 2014) but has also seen some of the largest fluctuations month-to-month.

These fluctuations can partially be blamed on the size of the market, but they are significant.

From April 2014 to May 2014 Delaware’s revenue declined 27%, and the state hasn’t sniffed its previous revenue highs since.

Additionally, Delaware has seen poker revenue plummet from a high of $88,000 in January to just $25,000 in June.

You can see the complete Delaware revenue figures at delottery.com

New Jersey

New Jersey started off with slightly underwhelming revenue reports, and the state’s slightly underwhelming performance has continued throughout, as has the state’s inconsistency.

Three months of gains was followed by three months of decline in revenue, with the state dropping to under $10 million in June for the first time since January. July did see a slight rebound, once again bringing New Jersey above the $10 million mark.

The state does have the chance get a pretty strong boost when PokerStars enters the market, but whether or not Stars brings the consistent steady growth we expected from the outset is another question entirely.

You can see the New Jersey revenue figures at nj.gov

 

 

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Steve Ruddock

Steve is veteran of the the poker industry, first as a player and now as a writer focusing mainly on the regulated U.S. markets and the politics of poker. Follow Steve on Twitter @SteveRuddock and at Google+.

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