Legal and regulated online poker is coming to Pennsylvania. It’s a state with almost 13 million people living in it. As a result, it is set up to possibly be the largest individual online poker market in the United States.
Pennsylvania lawmakers passed online poker legislation as a part of a comprehensive gambling expansion package in October 2017. It became the fourth state in the nation to do so, after Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey.
Earlier in October 2017, New Jersey signed an agreement to share online poker player pools with both Nevada and Delaware. The latter two states have already been doing sharing players since 2015. However, since both markets are rather small, the two-state agreement wasn’t enough to move revenue numbers in any significant way.
Alas, the addition of New Jersey may do the trick.
Doubling the existing US online poker market
The first sites that want to open up across all three markets are awaiting the necessary regulatory approval. Once they get that, it could conceivably double the size of the existing online poker market in the US.
Ultimately, that will mean more cash games players and more cash games. Plus, it will definitely mean tournaments with bigger prize pools than any of the individual states have created before.
That, in turn, will drive traffic, as players who might otherwise have skipped playing are attracted to the opportunity to play for big money. An increase in revenues for the sites that can put it all together is sure to follow.
New Jersey, with a population close to nine million people, more than twice the size of Nevada and Delaware combined, has been the online poker revenue leader since its legal and regulated market opened up in November 2013. However, the numbers have been less than impressive.
NJ online gambling sites broke records in 2016, posting $196.7 million in revenues. Plus, they’ve already beat that in 2017, averaging more than $20 million a month in revenue this year and pushing past the $200 million mark with November and December numbers yet to be tallied. However, online poker makes up less than 10 percent of that revenue.
New Jersey online poker on a downswing
In fact, while the online gambling market in New Jersey keeps on growing, things have only been getting worse for online poker. In June 2017, the NJ online poker market posted its worst month ever, with only $1.7 million in revenue.
Pennsylvania’s online poker market is projected to be bigger, but not by much. As a result, the $4 million cost of an online poker operator license might not seem worth it at first. That is, until operators look long-term and consider the distinct possibility Pennsylvania will join the interstate agreement with New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware.
Like the others did before it, the Pennsylvania online poker market will open up sometime in 2018 with a fence around it. That means only people inside state lines will be able to play against one another. However, language in the new law does allow for the state to enter into shared player pool agreements, like the one just inked between New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware.
New hope for legal online poker in PA
If and when that happens, it could double the size of a market that just doubled in size.
For the fist time in a long time, the US online poker market will become something significant. In fact, online poker players will have the chance to play for big money again in those four states, as the number of cash game players and tournament prize pools will rise substantially.
It should also be enough to attract other states interested in passing online poker legislation, growing the market even more.
The outlook for online poker in Pennsylvania out of the gate may not be too strong. However, the faster they can get up and running and on the interstate agreement with New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware, the brighter its future looks.