What Impact Will WSOP NV’s Mobile Apps Have on Liquidity?

Posted on August 13, 2014

On Monday, August 4 WSOP NV rolled out a rather extensive upgrade to its software.

Designed to facilitate the speed and ease in which the site is able to implement new features as they are approved by Nevada’s regulatory committee, the update’s advantages will not be immediately apparent to players. But within what should be a rather brief period of time, WSOP NV grinders will be enjoying the benefits of improved geolocation, a more seamless “cash at the cage” experience at the Rio and yes, mobile applications.

For more on the update, please refer to Bill Rini’s post on the Two Plus Two forums.

Despite entering Nevada’s regulated iGaming arena nearly one year ago, WSOP NV has lagged behind its New Jersey counterpart in several technological areas – mobile tech being one of them.

WSOP NJ would launch its iOS application within a week of going live in New Jersey, and an Android version of its software in early April.

In fact, most of the Garden State’s iGaming operators have rolled out mobile applications – yet neither of Nevada’s have yet to take the plunge.

Thankfully, that’s all about to change soon, as according to Rini:

“We have submitted both clients for approval and we will release mobile clients as soon as we have all the necessary regulatory approvals.”

With WSOP NV’s mobile software coming soon to a tablet or smartphone device near you, now’s as good a time as any to measure the potential impact mobile technology will have on the network’s liquidity.

Predicting the future based on the past

Historically, online poker applications have performed well. In extreme cases, they’ve helped networks avert complete disaster.

Take PokerStars for example. In mid-2011, the world’s top network was reeling from the residual effects of Black Friday. But in true PokerStars fashion, it would quickly figure out a way to retain its profit margins, despite losing a significant chuck of its user base.

First, the network released a mobile version of its software in January 2012. This was quickly followed by the launch of fast-fold (Zoom) poker.

Within weeks of release, Zoom Poker could be played from the convenience of iOS and Android powered devices. The two complimented each other brilliantly, working together towards encouraging players to put in more volume and allowing them to see more hand per hour.

In New Jersey, the impact of mobile releases have been less pronounced. Party / Borgata would release their iOS app within a month of NJ’s iGaming roll-out date. But the release was poorly advertised, and the app itself a plagued mess prone to geolocation fails and bugs. Worse yet, the options to play SNGs and tournaments were noticeably absent.

Yet still, in the weeks following the app’s release, cash-game liquidity on PartyPoker New Jersey rose nearly 17 percent. How much of that can be attributed to the release of the application I do not know, but I’ll take it as a sign that the iOS release didn’t hurt liquidity.

Party / Borgata would go onto release an Android app in late February. Again, liquidity would increase temporarily, but the initial release was far too limited to say with confidence that it was the driving factor behind the increase.

Measuring the effects of WSOP NJ’s mobile applications

WSOP’s apps are far more comprehensive than Party / Borgata’s – although to Party NJ’s credit, its apps now do allow for SNG play. Admittedly, they were hampered by some of the same geolocation quagmires as other app’s released in the Garden State, but I’d still argue that WSOP NJ’s mobile software is by far the most stable of the lot, and the best measuring stick for the potential impact WSOP NV’s app will have on liquidity.

The problem – and this is really not a problem in general, just in terms of my analysis – is that WSOP’s iOS app was released within one week of NJ’s entry into the iGaming arena. As such, it’s nearly impossible to judge its impact against other variables such as launch promotions, release bugs and player awareness.

What we do know is that traffic surged nearly 50 percent in the two weeks following the release.

WSOP’s Android app release is a much better guiding point. Released in early-April, during a time when NJ’s iPoker industry was in a state of complete freefall, the site’s liquidity would experience a small but noticeable traffic boost in the week following the app’s release.

Note that during the same time frame, liquidity on Party / Borgata would drop precipitously. This indicates that the release of WSOP’s Android app had at least some measurable effect on traffic.

Since, WSOP NJ is the only NJ-based network to experience liquidity gains. Granted, some of its gains can be attributed to a stellar promotional schedule, the live WSOP in Vegas and other software improvements, but I have to believe that the release of a stable Android application played a role in its resurgence.

The bottom line

Given the information available, I’m of the mind that the near simultaneous release of an Android and iOS version of WSOP NV’s software should result in modest short-term gains – probably software in the area of 5 to 10 percent.

The long-term ramifications are much more promising. Mobile applications certainly played a role in stabilizing WSOP NJ’s liquidity, and I believe they’ll have the same effect in Nevada. More importantly, come next summer, players participating at a live WSOP event should have the ability to play online from their mobile devices.

Compare that to this year, when players were forced to lug an unwieldy laptop around the Rio if they hoped to multi-table live and online games. As you can guess, most players took a pass.

Thus, the two things I can say with confidence is that traffic on WSOP NV wont be hurt by the release of a mobile app, and that come next year, its benefits will be on full display. But will its release immediately bolster liquidity by some absurd number – no, probably not.

Robert DellaFave Avatar
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Robert DellaFave

In addition to being the managing editor of OnlinePokerReport.com, New Jersey-based Robert contributes to a variety of online publications oriented toward legal U.S. online poker and casino markets. He is also a game designer. Find more from Robert by following @DivergentGames on Twitter.

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