When analyzing Nevada’s progress in the regulated iPoker arena throughout April, the term “mixed bag,” comes decidedly to mind.
Cash-game volume dipped on the state’s two flagship sites – WSOP.com and Ultimate Poker – marking the third straight month traffic is down. Yet, somehow, someway, revenues for the month of March were slightly up.
There has to be a logical explanation for all this, right? We seek the answer to this confounding question in this iteration of Nevada Traffic Report.
Nevada iPoker: By the numbers
Last time we checked, Nevada’s cash-game volume was experiencing some rather violent swings, but ultimately trending downward.
We noticed a different trend in the latter part of April; one tending towards market stability. Traffic was still down slightly overall, but varied very little from day-to-day. Whether or not this is a sign of what we can expect from the market in May is yet to be determined, but I’m inclined to think so.
Cash-game 7-day averages across all Nevada-regulated sites as follows (April 29th):
- WSOP: 91
- Ultimate Poker: 60
- Real Gaming: 0
Well, at least Real Gaming’s traffic tally held steady this week.
On a more serious note, Ultimate Poker was the biggest loser this week, forgoing 7.7 percent of its cash-game traffic. WSOP performed more admirably, but still lost a handful of players, down 3.2 percent from last we checked.
All told, the market lost approximately 5 percent of its cash-game mojo. Comparatively, the global market continued its seasonal depression, down 2.1 percent or so since April 14th.
Strangely, Nevada boosts revenue gains in March
Month-over-month online poker revenues in Nevada were up approximately $102,000 to $926,000 – a quite significant 12.4 percent gain.
Yet, if we look solely at cash-game traffic over February and March, we notice that there is little correlation between revenue and cash volume in the Silver State:
- February median cash-game traffic: 191
- March median cash-game traffic: 189
- February average cash-game traffic: 190
- March average cash-game traffic: 178
As clearly illustrated, both median and average cash-game volume dropped in March. The aforementioned numbers also uncover how poorly Nevada’s iPoker industry performed in late-March as opposed to the beginning of the month.
So why were revenues up?
First off, looking at daily revenue averages (as opposed to monthly), the difference between February and March becomes less pronounced.
- February daily revenue avg: $29, 430
- March daily revenue avg: $29,870
Is it then possible that the increase in revenue is accounted for solely on the merits of Nevada’s MTT and SNG volume? While SNG traffic is not easily measurable, MTT turnouts, especially for major events, are.
Comparing February turnouts to March, the following trends were revealed:
- There have been slight increases in Major tournament traffic from the period of February 17th to March 24th.
- The gains are more pronounced on Ultimate Poker then they are on WSOP.
The data at least infers that rising tournament volume is a key contributor to Nevada’s month-over-month revenue gains.
On a side, it appears that Ultimate Poker is becoming a tournament-only site in Nevada and in particular, ultra-competitive New Jersey – where cash-game traffic has virtually disappeared.
Turnouts for Sunday Majors on the rise
After a brief lull, tournament volume for Nevada’s biggest weekly online events exhibited renewed gusto.
WSOP’s 15k Guarantee drew 94 runners, up one over two weeks prior, in smashing its guarantee by approximately $3,800.
Ultimate Poker’s $10,000 Sunday Guarantee also performed admirably, enticing 106 players to pony up the $91 + $9 for a shot at glory. The 16 player increase still wasn’t enough to cover the guarantee however, as the $10k came up a mere $354 short. Maybe next week.
WSOP’s Main Event qualifier also boasted increases, but still featured a staggering $2,600 overlay. Note to NV grinders – there is tremendous value in playing this tournament.
Predicting April’s revenue – and beyond
Given the substantial cash-game traffic loss that occurred in April, I wouldn’t expect Nevada’s iPoker revenue figures to be higher in April than they were in March. Larger tournament turnouts may offset the discrepancy somewhat, but I suspect April’s daily averages to be fall far short of February/March figures.
However, as hype for the World Series of Poker reaches a fever pitch, traffic may start to pick up again shortly. Thousands of poker players swarm the Rio in a few weeks, some inevitably looking for something to do during their downtime.
Even if just a paltry percentage of these poker tourists play online, it would do wonders for Nevada’s fledgling cash-game traffic. And having the state’s most popular online poker site brandish the WSOP moniker certainly won’t hurt.
Should Nevada’ compact with Delaware go into effect sooner as opposed to later, the market may continue to flourish well into the fall. As as added benefit, cash-game traffic tends to rise organically once the weather cools.
In short: Barring catastrophe, expect April to be the worst month of 2014 for Nevada’s iPoker market, followed by slight to moderate gains throughout.
And if I’m wrong (it does happen), well, I’ll be sure to later deny all of the aforementioned predictions.