Remember the days when you couldn’t go more than ten minutes without seeing a PartyPoker ad on your television? It’s been a long time since PartyPoker ruled the airways – and the USA online poker marketplace – but it appears as though it may be happening again, albeit on a smaller – and now legal and regulated – scale.
PartyPoker and their partner, the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, have taken a very early and very impressive lead in the race to become the dominant player in the regulated New Jersey online gambling market. According to reports, they currently hold half of the poker market share in the early stages of the state’s online gambling revival, a number that makes them a prohibitive favorite to be the industry leader in New Jersey for some time to come.
Branding Is Good
The big lead comes from a variety of factors. For starters, PartyPoker and Borgata both benefit from great brand recognition. PartyPoker was once the biggest name in American online poker, and they remained a popular name around the world in the years since 2006, when they left the US market in the wake of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). Meanwhile, the Borgata is the top casino – and top poker room – in Atlantic City, meaning they have their own built-in advantages in the New Jersey market.
A bigger factor may be the marketing blitz that the partners have engaged in since the launch of online poker in the state. If you live in or around New Jersey, you’ve seen numerous ads for the PartyPoker site, all of which are telling potential players that they could become “New Jersey’s Next Poker Millionaire.” It’s an aggressive campaign, and while they’re not the only ones with ads on television – Ultimate Poker has also been on the airwaves just plenty – they’ve definitely been the most noticeable site and had the most interesting promotions. That’s been especially noticeable given the rather conservative bonuses and promotions being offered by most of their competitors.
The PartyPoker promotion won’t actually earn someone a million dollars, at least not directly. The winner will receive a variety of tournament entries, including a $100,000 seat in a WPT Alpha8 high-roller event, a seat in the WPT Championship worth $15,000, a year’s worth of $10,400 entries into the site’s online Sunday $50,000 guaranteed tournament, and about $8,000 in live tournament entries at the Borgata, with the remaining money – over $300,000 – being awarded in cash.
Battle of the Online Poker Giants
This head start may be just what PartyPoker needs to fight off a couple of fierce rivals. Right now, they hold a small but clear edge over the Caesars/888 World Series of Poker-branded site in New Jersey, which has about 60 percent as much traffic as the Borgata/PartyPoker entry. But the real fight may come when PokerStars enters the market, as just about all analysts expect them to eventually do.
Once PokerStars is approved for a license in New Jersey, they’ll be offering online gambling in partnership with Resorts Casino Hotel. Given PokerStars’ great brand recognition and their sterling reputation in the United States (particularly after their rapid issuance of refunds in the wake of Black Friday), they could well become the favorites to dominate the New Jersey online poker landscape. But being first to the market comes with a huge edge, and the longer it takes PokerStars to get in the game, the bigger PartyPoker’s advantage will become.