When Nevada became the first state to legalize online poker in 2013, the prevailing wisdom was that other states would follow suit and create a large and successful market. But fast-forward to today and there are only two other states that offer internet poker (Delaware and New Jersey). What’s worse is that the American .COM market is getting crushed by offshore sites, with the latter gaining traffic while US operations have collectively fallen by 23% in the last two years.
Bodog is the poster child for offshore success, having moved up to being the third-largest online poker site in the world with 1,700 cash game players per hour (PokerScout data). They are followed by the Winning network (500 players), Merge Network (475 players) and Chico network (475 players), which rank 17th, 18th and 19th respectively in the world.
Meanwhile, the Delaware Poker network, which now shares liquidity with Nevada, is the biggest legal US online poker operation with 190 hourly cash game players. They are followed by WSOP Nevada (170 players), WSOP/888 NJ (160 players) and Party Poker NJ (130 players).
Why are Offshore Sites dominating Legal US Sites
The obvious reason why unregulated offshore sites continue to dominate the regulated US iPoker rooms is simple mathematics. Offshore sites offer their services to 47 states that have yet to decide on iPoker, which makes up over 306 million American citizens. The other three regulated states, on the other hand, only comprise about 12.7 million US residents. Considering this, it’s no wonder why Bodog alone has over twice the amount of players as the American market.
Given how slowly regulation is moving in the US, it’s tough to say when more states will legalize the game and increase the potential player pool. California, Pennsylvania and New York are moving closer to legal US online poker, which would be a huge boost. But until that happens, it doesn’t look like the current US market is any competition for the offshore sites.