When most people think of New Jersey tourism draws, Atlantic City and the Jersey Shore are two popular areas that come to mind. However, we might soon have to add another major reason people visit the Garden State – online poker.
According to a piece by NorthJersey.com, players come from out of state and rent hotel rooms just so they can be within NJ borders to play internet poker. The article cites Mike ‘MikeyCasino’ Azzaro as one prominent player who can be found grinding in New Jersey on the weekends. Azzaro, a Yonkers, NY native, has become a legend for winning three $50k guaranteed tournaments over the last five months at Party Poker. He and his friends like to cross the Hudson River for lengthy multi-tabling sessions that can last from 1 p.m. to 3 a.m. Here’s an excerpt from what NorthJersey wrote about Azzaro:
New Jersey benefits when Azzaro and friends cross the Hudson and pay for hotel rooms and room service. And Azzaro admits he has “splurged” on purchases in the state to celebrate wins, such as after he won more than $15,000 in partypoker’s first two tournaments in December.
MikeyCasino is joined by plenty of his fellow New Yorkers because 4.4% of partypoker NJ sign-ups are from the Empire State. Another 2.7% of partypoker players come from Pennsylvania. In all, 15% of the site’s player base resides outside of New Jersey, including people from as far away as California, Florida and Texas.
Poker Tourism Brings Black Friday Expats back to the US
This “poker tourism” phenomenon seems to know few boundaries because the NJ online market is even bringing Black Friday expats back to the United States. Jamie Kerstetter is a perfect example of this since the Middlesex County, NJ native returned to her home state after spending two years in Mexico. With $527k in online tournament winnings, Kerstetter is adding to this total on a monthly basis at partypoker, her sponsor site.
Not everybody who comes to New Jersey for the online poker is a pro like Azzaro or Kerstetter. Some recreational players visit for major events like the Borgata Spring Open or the $600k New Jersey Championship of Online Poker (NJCOP). And as Caesars spokesman Seth Palansky points out, attracting these recreational players is very important for the recovery of Atlantic City.
Atlantic City Needs Poker Players from Outside the State
“For Atlantic City to rebound, we need to attract players from outside the state to have reason to come visit again,” says Palansky, when speaking of the benefits of Caesars’ WSOP.com gaming site. “To get them to sign up for our Total Rewards program and start gaining loyalty points will pay off for both our land-based and online businesses over the long term.”
New Jersey online poker may be earning less than the state’s government and analysts predicted for the first year. But the tourism that internet poker is bringing in will definitely help make up for the early shortcomings.