New Jersey Poker Players Prefer Legal Poker Sites: New Study

February 21, 2014

Reports from a recent study that was conducted by a firm engaged in Commercial Intelligence research of 505 New Jersey online poker players were quizzed. All of these players showed encouraging results. The study was discussed by the Commercial Intelligence during the ICE Totally Gaming Exhibition in London. The study revealed that a good 35% of existing online poker players in New Jersey had switched to online poker when it got legal status in November last year.

The remaining 65% of the players who preferred playing online poker were based outside of New Jersey. These players were already playing on unlicensed sites and have since switched to legal and licensed online gambling sites. However, this constitutes only the base of current players that is expected to grow steadily over a period of time. Given the extensive marketing efforts already undertaken by the sites, more new players are bound to be attracted by the promotions.

Online poker in New Jersey

According to U.S. Senator Dean Heller, a new Federal Proposal legalizing online poker would be introduced within a month or so. However, while permitting online poker, the proposal would disallow Internet casino games. The Nevada Senator is quite concerned that the legislation for online gambling has been proliferating from State to State, and includes games such as roulette and blackjack. This would tell upon affect the revenue of land-based casinos, especially the ones located in the home State.

Heller also indicated that a few genuine concerns expressed by billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adleson, who is against legalizing online gambling need to be looked into. While replying to questions posed by the reporter of the Las Vegas Review journal, Heller informed that Adleson’s concerns were not without reason. He said he was not for the Wild West turning into a gambling empire, as it would throw up some serious social issues.

Adleson, on his part, has spearheaded the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG) and is bent on funding the organization with his unlimited sources of revenue. One of the main goals of the CSIG would be overturning the 2011 ruling that re-clarified 1961 legislation, the Wire Act that permits individual states to promote online poker legislation. Adleson is instrumental about the draft of an act controlling Internet Gambling, which would render Internet wagering illegal.

Heller and another U.S. Senator Harry Reid are also for the rewriting of the said Wire Act, but would prefer to leave out online poker and target other casino games. Reid was also behind the Reid-Kyl bill proposed in late 2012, which however, never made it as it was a proposal that was poker-only and drew flak from all quarters.

About the study

Going back to the study discussed at the ICE Totally Gaming Exhibition in London, the Online Poker Report set out two very important points. The first thing noticed was that most of the would-be online poker players were rather reluctant to play online poker if it was not legal. Most of them abhorred illegal activity, however enticing the game may be. The second point noticed was that even the majority of those players who were willing to risk playing on unlicensed sites, have shown a distinct preference to switch over to more legal playing options that have been made available.

The deduction from the study further shows that any online poker ban, at whatever level, will not deter players from turning to poker promising real money in the United States. The market for online poker in the US is not online rampant but growing steadily. It is up to the authorities to provide a proper and safe environment to fulfill the growing need. If not, the players, who cannot be stopped, will continue playing right into the hands of illegal online poker operators. While this is certainly good news for poker activists supporting online poker, it may not find much favor with people opposing the move.

The results

The startling results of the study reveal the poker players could end up spending up to $65 million on online poker in New Jersey in the first year itself. Within a period of 10 years the revenues could hit $92 million. These are the tentative figures representing the total amount poker players would end up spending in cash games or tournaments. This would represent the revenue for online poker from the poker room alone.

Much earlier, researchers analyzed data from over 4.5 million online poker players way back in 2009 itself when unregulated poker was peaking in the U.S. The results then were equally startling as it found that almost 38,000 online poker players in New Jersey had spent in excess of $765 per year, which translated to a $29-million market. Statistics showed that New Jersey players contributed three percent towards U.S. revenue, and 0.8 percent towards overall worldwide revenue from online poker. The estimates of the size of the entire New Jersey online poker was at that time valued at around $260 million to over $1.2 billion.

In conclusion, one can safely assume that New Jersey is heading to become a major online poker destination that is legal. With the introducing of the new Federal Proposal legalizing online poker, there could be a sudden increase in the number of players who would be quick to switch from the other illegal sources they are currently using. This will in turn, transform as additional revenue for the State.