New Jersey took a gamble on legalizing online poker and casino games last year, but so far, the online poker side of the business hasn’t had the best of luck. Ultimate Poker pulled out of the state two months ago, and now Betfair has decided to shut down its online poker site as well. Analysts speculate there’s just no more room for smaller poker websites due to saturation in the market.
Betfair’s troubles first began back in mid-September when its land-based partner, Trump Plaza, closed its doors for good after filing bankruptcy. According to New Jersey regulators, an operator must be teamed up with a land-based gambling establishment in Atlantic City in order to present legal, real money online poker and casino games in the state.
The London-based iGaming company immediately supplicated the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement, which granted Betfair a temporary waiver to continue operating in the Garden State under the license of Caesars Interactive. That lasted for only a brief time as Betfair continued to seek out a new permanent partner in Atlantic City. They eventually joined forces with Golden Nugget, but not even 2 weeks went by before the announcement came that the online poker site would be ceasing operations on December 1st.
Betfair Poker’s international gaming website will not be affected by the closure, and according to reports, the company has no intention of shutting down its online casino division in New Jersey.
According to the Monthly Internet Gross Gaming Revenue Reports published by the NJ DGE, Betfair’s online poker revenue came in at $0 for the month of October. In fact, peer-to-peer gaming has only generated $50 on the year for Betfair. The online casino, on the other hand, has been much more successful for the UK brand, bringing in $6,677,288 on the year; $855,869 in October alone.
Since teaming up with Golden Nugget on November 21st, BetfairCasino.com and GoldenNuggetCasino.com now possess a combined 25.1% of the online casino market share in New Jersey. That virtually ties them with Tropicana (TropicanaCasino.com, VirginCasino.com) for 2nd place with 25.6% of the market. Leading the state is The Borgata (BorgataCasino.com, PalaCasino.com) with 29% of the online casino action, while Caesars Interactive (HarrahsCasino.com, 888Casino.com) now finds itself trailing the pack at 20.6%.
Betfair Poker’s failure in the Garden State cannot be attributed to a lack of effort. The online poker room offered one of the best new player promotions in the region, equivalent to 40% rakeback. Even the VIP program was superfluous, delivering 20% rakeback for its most devoted members. Unfortunately, a privation of branding and recognition in the market is more likely to blame, whereas players are more familiar with names Caesars, WSOP and Borgata.
As of now, New Jersey has lost two of its original online poker providers since the interactive gaming market launched in November of 2013. Ultimate Poker, famed for being the first US regulated, real money poker site (Nevada, April 30, 2013), was unable to gain any traction in the New Jersey, exiting the state in mid-September. Coincidentally, Ultimate Gaming also closed its virtual poker room in Nevada late last month.