US Online Poker Revenue Up in December, Despite Drop From 2020

In 2021, Michigan’s online poker market went live, competition in Pennsylvania heated up, and operators tried their best to navigate the first full year since the pandemic.
Photo of poker player's hand, holding cards 10JQKA of hearts. Blurry poker chips and cash on the poker table past his hand. Throughout the past 2 years of COVID-19, legal online poker has heated up as in-person games became scarce.
By
January 31, 2022

While revenue from online poker was up across the board in December across Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, the vertical was down double digits from 2020, data from regulatory agencies in all four states show.

Operators in each state continued to generate millions in revenue, but the numbers were off significantly from 2020 — the point in the pandemic when interest in online poker soared alongside lockdowns mandated by the health crisis. In every case where applicable, operators and markets that were live in 2020 saw their best months for revenue during the opening salvo of COVID-19.

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Poker Up 6.4% Month-to-Month in New Jersey

According to the New Jersey Division on Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE), revenue from online poker totaled $2.3 million in December, up 6.4% from November ($2.2 million) but also down 22.6% from December 2020 ($3 million). The regulator reported that the vertical generated $29.9 million in revenue in 2021, down 22.9% from 2020 ($38.8 million).

WSOP NJ was the lead operator in terms of revenue and market share for all but two months of 2021. It gave up the lead to the partypoker US NetworkBetMGM Poker NJ, Borgata Poker NJ and partypoker NJ — in September and October. Meanwhile, PokerStars NJ was in third place for every month of the year.

Full-year revenue at WSOP NJ totaled $11.8 million in 2021, while the partypoker US Network had $9.9 million and PokerStars NJ grossed $8.1 million. For WSOP NJ and PokerStars NJ, those totals were both off 28% from 2020, at $16.4 million and $12.6 million, respectively. The partypoker US Network grew revenue 1.7% year-to-year from 2020 ($9.8 million).

In 2021, January was PokerStars NJ’s best month for revenue ($843k), while WSOP NJ fared best in July ($1.7 million) and the partypoker US Network had their best in September ($1 million).

Competition Heats Up in Pennsylvania

The online poker market in Pennsylvania became competitive in 2021. PokerStars PA had the market all to itself until April when BetMGM Poker PA and Borgata Poker PA joined. WSOP PA joined in July, a few months later.

Online poker operators in the Keystone State generated $3.1 million in revenue in December, up 11.2% from the previous month ($2.8 million) and up 12.2% from December 2020 ($2.7 million). According to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB), poker revenue was $32.4 million for the full year 2021, down 9.6% from 2020 ($35.9 million).

The entirety of the $35.9 million in poker revenue from 2020 came from PokerStars PA. But, like its affiliate in New Jersey, revenue was down 28% year-to-year at PokerStars PA — it grossed $25.8 million in 2021.

Despite being live for three months less than its competitors, WSOP PA outpaced BetMGM Poker PA and Borgata Poker PA to clinch second place in terms of revenue with $3.5 million in 2021. BetMGM was third with $2.4 million while Borgata was fourth with $731k.

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A December to Remember in Michigan

In Michigan, the first year for the state’s online poker and casino markets ended on a high note.

December was the highest month for the combined verticals in terms of revenue at $121.8 million, up 13.2% from November ($107.6 million), according to data from the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB). Since the MGCB doesn’t separate poker from casino revenue, the exact contribution of poker to the final total is not known.

The MGCB reported that for the full year 2021, the combined verticals generated $1.1 billion in revenue. Only two operators — BetMGM Poker MI and PokerStars MI — are authorized to offer online poker in the Mitten State. By comparison, there are 14 operators licensed for online casino games in Michigan, including the two just mentioned.

BetMGM MI grossed $417.1 million in 2021, compared to $40.9 million for PokerStars MI. The latter is partnered with Stars Casino MI and FOX Bet Sports MI. WSOP is planning to launch in Michigan in the near future and should be adding some more competition in 2022.

Delaware’s Racino Poker Down 34% From 2020

The Delaware Lottery reported that poker — which is provided exclusively by 888poker through its partnership with three racinos in the state — had its best month for revenue in December.

The three racinos — Delaware Park, Dover Downs, and Harrington — grossed $43k on poker in December, the regulator said. That was up 29% from November ($33k) and 19.6% from December 2020 ($36k). For the full year, the racinos grossed $421k, down 34.2% year-to-year ($640k).

The best month of 2021 for DE online poker was December for Delaware Park ($28k), January for Dover Downs ($11k), and April for Harrington ($8k). The racinos grossed $421k for the full year 2021, down 34.2% year-to-year ($640k).

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