Why is their a lull in the NJ online poker world, and what needs to be done about it?
As the first year of regulated online poker in NJ soon comes to a close, we are left wondering what it could be like in year two, and why it has been so quiet lately.
Though New Jersey online poker has been successful in some ways in it’s infancy, it still has under-performed in a big way compared to it’s lofty predictions. These poker sites need more players, and they have had trouble doing just that. Let’s take a closer look at why the players have not come.
These sites are young and are growing with the industry. Because of this, they will be forced into a large amount of trial and error when it comes to marketing, game play, and solutions to problems that they may or may not have foreseen. They jumped into the deep end first and are learning to swim as they go.
Many of these companies have put existing employees in charge of new online poker duties, which they may have never dealt with before. It will take a little more time for some of these people to get better at their jobs.
Ultimately these companies will need more patience from the people and players while they work towards a better functioning product.
This is the first time that these poker sites have had to work with regulations, and tight ones at that. The DGE and its regulation of the sites is a necessary evil in regards to poker being legally allowed, and it has its benefits for the player. But it also slows the sites down, and makes it harder for them to implement simple solutions. A perfect example of this is the geo-location issues that have gotten much attention in this first year.
Almost everyone has heard by now that many people have had trouble either getting on these sites, or staying on these sites while they play. This is due to a strict geo-location measures set by the DGE to make sure people are physically in NJ while they play. The problem is, it restricts even some people who are in NJ. This issue has definitely gotten better since they first launched, but there are still some kinks to be worked out, and the rumors of these problems have deterred players from signing up.
As they continue to work towards more and better solutions, here is what we know:
You need to be in NJ, and you need to have at least 2 different wifi signals around you. The sites also have free adapters that they can send you that have helped some people connect better.
Social Security Number
Although giving your social security number to companies is becoming far more commonplace than a few years back, people seem to still be wary of giving it up for a poker company, and who can blame them. Poker sites have a checkered past when it comes to stealing players money, cheating, etc. However with the regulations from the DGE in place, we should be now be protected from these kinds of things.
What do they do with the social security numbers? Here is what we know:
The social security number is used 1 time to verify that you are exactly who you say you are, and is an extra measure that the DGE requires the sites to do.
This is to protect against identity fraud as well as underage gambling. The social security number is then discarded after the identification process. It is not used for any tax purposes, and does not go to the DGE.
No Visas Allowed
When a player finally decides to deposit real money, they often find they are unable to deposit using ANY Visa card. Whether it is a debit, credit, or pre-paid Visa card, it rarely works. Mastercard has no issues, and many people have chosen to deposit using pre-paid master cards that they can buy at their local store with cash or debit.
I personally use the instant bank transfer, where I enter my checking account and routing number and am able to instantly fund my poker account through my bank. I am also able to withdrawal money from the sites and wire it into my bank account with this method, and it only takes about 3-4 days.
Lack of Offsite Marketing
We’ve all seen the TV ads, billboards, and online advertisement for a number of these poker sites. But an area of advertising they seem to lack in is boots-on-the-ground offsite marketing. This seems especially true because all of the other ads aren’t working as well as they’d hoped. I haven’t seen hardly any attempts at this yet, and since their marketing is concentrated in NJ right now, it might be easy to do and effective.
The Future? It’s Bright.
Just how successful online poker in NJ can be is difficult to say. I am optimistic about its future, and believe that we may right now be in the proverbial “eye of the storm”. Here’s why.
First off, its been a bumpy first year, and I anticipate the bumps to get smoothed over with time. This includes better solutions for geo-location, depositing, and overall marketing efforts.
The sites haven’t run many promotional events lately, as they did when they first entered the market. I’ve spoken to them about this and each one is getting ready to run 1 year anniversary promotions soon which should generate more excitement around NJ online poker as a whole.
Pokerstars and Full Tilt Poker are now expected to join the market in the first quarter of 2015, and they expect to come in with a splash. They have a lot of money and will attempt to get players right away with excellent promotions and games. This in turn will force their competition to step it up a notch in these areas, and provide a better product for the players in the end.
There has been a lull in the NJ online poker scene for the past few months, but expect it to pick back up soon.
Until then, you can find me on the virtual felt as I continue to enjoy online poker’s return to the U.S. and its inevitable growth. Good luck out there!