The U.S. online poker and gaming market is still young, and a panel of CEOs, including Adam Greenblatt of BetMGM, came together recently at the Betting on Sports America Digital conference.
While there is a lot of focus on traditional sports betting, sportsbooks actually have a relatively low margin for operators. Despite the popularity of online sportsbooks, operators see them as a foothold into an online gambling jurisdiction to offer more lucrative products such as online poker, slots, and table games. To put it simply, online poker and casino games are more profitable.
BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt sees the United States as the “biggest regulated market in the world” when it comes to online poker and other casino games. , BetMGM is quickly gaining traction as a leading player in the states that have legalized online casino-style gaming.
Greenblatt also noted that the legal online sports betting is “happening faster than we’d imagined. There’s an urgency to adopt sports betting that frankly, has taken us by surprise.”
BetMGM Wagering on Nationwide Liquidity for Online Poker
Online poker and casino games have been slower to gain traction than sports betting; so far, online casino-style games are only legal in six states, compared to 15 for online sports betting. Indiana is poised to have both sometime in 2021.
Partypoker is a part of BetMGM in New Jersey, along with Borgata and BetMGM online poker websites; the BetMGM online poker brands have big plans for expanding across the US market. Soon, BetMGM will offer online poker in Michigan followed by Pennsylvania. But that’s just the beginning for BetMGM.
“I think we will see online poker have its time in the suns,” Greenblatt said when questioned about the next 10-years of the U.S.-regulated online gambling market. “I think we’ll see shared liquidity across all states. Once again, the U.S. will reclaim its position as a leader in online gaming verticals.”
If the US regains its dominance within the next 10 years, that would put online poker front and center. For the last ten years, online poker in the US has existed in something of a gray market. Partypoker was hugely popular in the mid-2000s before the online poker website left the U.S. market. Other poker websites hung in until April 2011, when the United States v. Scheinberg (dubbed online poker’s Black Friday) shut down three of the most popular poker websites, including PokerStars, for violating the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.
Since that Black Friday, PokerStars has changed ownership several times, but is now owned by Flutter Entertainment, the parent company of Fanduel. PokerStars finally settled with the U.S. government, allowing it to pursue online gaming licenses in regulated U.S. markets. Unfortunately, PokerStar’s past reputation has hampered its effort to obtain a license in some states. Fortunately, BetMGM poker doesn’t have the problem of a troubled past.
Poker Needs a Nationwide Player Pool
Greenblatt is optimistic concerning the future of online poker and other forms of online gambling in the U.S. Currently, only a handful of states currently have legal, regulated online poker. Moreover, only three, Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware, can share a player pool, and only for the Caesars/888 network. So far, sharing a player pool between the three states hasn’t quite worked out, since Delaware and Nevada have such small populations.
The expansion of online poker has been very slow, with many American poker players using offshore and unregulated poker platforms.
If the pace of online poker over the past 10 years is any indicator, it will take some time before poker players in all 50 states can play legally in cash games or a tournament. But Greenblatt and BetMGM are optimistic that the quick expansion of online sports betting will pave the way for online poker, slots, and table games. Adding a casino is natural for a mobile sportsbook.
Other than tax revenue, other reasons why states are adopting sports betting is that neighboring states are legalizing and regulating it, providing an impetus to bring the unregulated market into the light.
While some states may never legalize online poker or other forms of gambling, a 50-state player pool may never happen. But if regulated online poker networks becoming available to the majority of the U.S. population, that seems like a good bet, especially if you consider that sports betting is rapidly expanding, providing a foot in the door for other forms of online gambling.
Overall, the popularity of online and mobile sportsbooks, bodes well for online poker, slots, and casino games over the next 10 years.