When the COVID-19 pandemic began, online poker sites saw a huge boom in player traffic. Because players were stuck at home and boredom set in, sites started to see an uptick in traffic. This was good for Pennsylvania as its online poker industry was just a few months old when the pandemic started. Each month since March, the market has seen an increase in revenue earnings. That is, until this past September.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has revealed the September totals, with the online poker market generating less than $2.4 million for the month. This was the lowest total the market has seen in months, actually dropping so low that it beat the $2.5 million generated in December of 2019.
Drop in Traffic
The low revenues were not a sight that operators wanted to see. And the amount would have most likely been lower if the Pennsylvania Championship of Online Poker had not taken place. The cash game traffic that started as the PACOOP began helped to push up revenues. The series actually helped the online poker market to avoid an even lower drop.
So, why is poker traffic declining? Is it due to players trying to get back to normal even though the pandemic is still an issue? In general, the summer and fall months are low when it comes to online poker traffic. As the holidays approach and the temperatures get cooler, players come back indoors and start playing poker once again.
But it could also be that Pennsylvania only has one operator and players are growing tired of just playing at PokerStars. Because PokerStars does not have a competitor just yet, they are not pushing for player traffic via incentives or promotions like they normally would be.
If the provider had a competitor, then most likely there would be more promotions and events which would drive an increase in traffic.
Competition to Come
PokerStars will not have to wait too much longer to see a little competition in Pennsylvania. During the last meeting of the state Gaming Control board, 888 was approved for iGaming. They can launch in Pennsylvania when they are ready, and we do not expect them to wait too long.
With 888 comes the launch of the WSOP in Pennsylvania, which is a huge brand name. Even people who barely know anything about poker have heard of the WSOP. It is almost guaranteed that the WSOP site will see an influx of traffic when it launches and the online gaming revenue totals will get a huge boost.
GVC and MGM, the parent company’s of ROAR are also being considered by the Board. ROAR will bring the partypoker US Network to the state, yet another big brand that will certainly bring in competition for PokerStars.
It is expected that GVC and MGM may earn approval during the next meeting of the board which is scheduled for October 28. So, while online poker may be down right now, it is sure to see a resurgence over the next few months as new operators join the market.