The name alone has certain connotations. PokerStars: largest online poker site in the world, untouchable, consistently growing, best marketing strategies. The company, owned by Amaya, seems to be able to face any challenge, work some marketing magic, and become even more successful than before.
Now, PokerStars has reentered the United States online poker market. After an unpleasant departure on Black Friday in 2011, PokerStars reentered America on March 21 in the segregated and regulated state of New Jersey.
For those who have labored in New Jersey for more than two years since online poker was authorized to begin – Borgata, PartyPoker, Caesars, WSOP, and 888poker – the seemingly smooth introduction of PokerStars to the territory was likely a tough pill to swallow. And PokerStars is expected to entice many existing online poker customers to its site in the coming days, weeks, and months.
What are companies like PartyPoker and 888 to do?
Innovate, Don’t Imitate
It would be easy to see what PokerStars offers New Jersey players and try to counter those offers with similar ones. However, PartyPoker and 888poker must come up with new offers and ideas to make inroads in the industry and becomes the ones to follow.
PartyPoker and 888poker are no newcomers to the global industry or to regulated markets in various countries. Their executives have insight into the industry and know how to reach new players. But they need to get ahead of the game and take some risks.
Leaving New Jersey to go back to Florida for a month… excited about Pokerstars.NJ and can't wait to see what the future holds #BeBackSoon— Jason Mercier (@JasonMercier) March 23, 2016
PokerStars’ competitors must come up with new ways to draw new and recreational players to the games while still offering perks to the grinders and players who want higher stakes.
More ways to work with their land-based partners can also be used to tap into new demographics. Cross-promotions have been shown to work, and with some innovative thinking, they will work well with the likes of Borgata and Caesars. The casinos are some of the better known in Atlantic City, far more so than PokerStars’ partner, Resorts.
Companies must work with marketing executives with experience in eSports or daily fantasy sports, industries that have successfully grown their player bases to enormous heights. The poker industry was at the top of the game once and can return with the right partnerships and ideas.
Pokerstars NJ is already second in traffic after few hours. You can expect them to become first by tomorrow. #pokerscout— Alexandre Dreyfus (@alex_dreyfus) March 21, 2016
It’s been said many, many times that online poker companies can only market to young, predominantly white males because that is the primary demographic of the online poker world. But in order to grow the game, executives are going to have to climb outside of that box.
Online poker needs to reach out to more women and the African-American community. Older people are a prime demographic due to excess time available in retirement, a desire to connect with a community, and a lack of mobility that limits time at home games or at casinos. People with disabilities comprise yet another untapped market to which online poker could appeal.
Just downloaded the @PokerStars mobile app for NJ. Landed in Philly. Won't be long till I be in action.— Chris Moneymaker (@CMONEYMAKER) March 21, 2016
PartyPoker took some chances when it first launched in New Jersey by partnering with professional sports teams and a local arena, but the demographic reached was not a new one. By starting small but reaching out to new markets, companies like PartyPoker and 888poker have the opportunity to reach people who have no previous ties or allegiance to PokerStars.
As the US industry has the potential to grow to include other states like Pennsylvania, California, and New York in the coming years, this is the time for online poker companies to venture away from tried-and-true marketing tactics and try to expand the market. It will be a win-win for the industry.
POKERSTARS IN NJ! So exciting! Although does this mean I have to move back to my home state? 😏 https://t.co/eUdMo2Wzva— Vanessa Selbst (@VanessaSelbst) March 21, 2016