Delaware Online Poker Revenue Small, but Climbing
Delaware may only be able to fill a few potholes with the money online poker brings in, but at least it has been able to fill a few more of them lately. According to the Delaware Lottery’s most recent report, internet poker revenue figures have increased for three consecutive months in the state, as April 2015 was poker’s most successful month in nearly a year.
For the month of April, the Delaware Lottery reports that poker rake and tournament fees added up to $48,552, an 11 percent increase from March’s $43,636 number. Now, the previous two months boasted increases in poker revenue of 25 percent and 26 percent, so April’s success might not look all that amazing, but any time you are seeing a double-digit revenue boost in a month, that’s something to smile about. It looks even better considering it comes during the point in the year where online poker traffic starts to decline with the warmer weather (poker players spend less time in front of their computers and more time outdoors, perhaps enjoying a new beekeeping hobby or learning how to water ski).
Delaware’s online poker revenue is always going to be relatively low simply because Delaware is a small state. When your customer base is limited to people within state borders and you can literally count the number of states with smaller populations on one hand, you are never going to be swimming in gold coins Scrooge McDuck-style. Delaware has been helped, though, when the “Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement” (MSIGA) officially took effect at the end of March 2015. It was a long time in coming, as MSIGA was signed in February 2014 by Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and Delaware Governor Jack Markell and authorized the two states to share internet gaming player pools. Interestingly (or not – just humor me on this one), the ability for states to enter into these cross-border agreements was born out of legislation that aimed to kill (or at least maim) online gambling in the U.S., the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA). While the UIGEA prohibited financial institutions from facilitating the movement of funds to and from “illegal” online gambling sites, it did include a clause which allowed states to individually legalize and regulate internet gaming and form interstate compacts with one another, a la multi-state lotteries.
So finally, a couple months ago, the poker player pools of Nevada and Delaware finally merged (Nevada only has online poker, so casino games player pools are still separate). While PokerScout.com reported in April that the merger did not actually affect the combined poker traffic of the two states all that much, it has certainly benefited Delaware, which would explain the recent increases in revenue. Nevada’s player pool is much larger than Delaware’s, which immediately made the games more attractive to potential players in the Blue Hen State. Naturally, when more tables are filled, some people that were previously on the fence will decide to deposit and hop onto the tables.
Delaware has also benefited from the time zone gap with Nevada. Because Nevada is three hours behind, online poker prime time hours are expanded in Delaware. At times when games would die down in Delawre, say 11:00pm ET, they are just getting going in Nevada, as it is only 8:00pm out there. Thus, not only are the peaks in traffic extended with the merger, but Delaware players now have the ability to find games during a much wider range of hours. Additionally, tournament action is much better in Nevada, including prize pool guarantees, another factor that has likely driven more money to Delaware’s three poker sites.
As for those three sites, Delaware Park is still the king of the hill with net revenue of $34,591, over 71 percent of the state’s April total. Dover Downs brought in $10,675, while Harrington Raceway and Casino netted just $3,286 from poker.
While online poker has grown the last few months in Delaware, the same cannot be said for the state’s internet table games. Table game revenue has decreased in three of the first four months of the year and it has not been a gradual decline, either. In April, net table game revenue was just $15,564, compared to $51,626 in March. Back in December 2014, that number was just a few dollars shy of $100,000. This might not be concerning, though, as with such small numbers to work with in the first place, any sort of sizable swing makes a big difference in the overall figures. It could just be something as simple as an anomaly, a seasonal swing, or a migration of players to poker.