If anybody has reason to be worried about the way that their company is going in the US online poker market, it’s Ultimate Poker Chairman Tom Breitling. In New Jersey, Ultimate’s revenue fell from $100k in March to $50k in April. Ultimate Poker’s first full year in Nevada hasn’t exactly gone great either since the site’s player base fell from a peak of 220 hourly cash game players to 55 players now.
Amazingly though, Breitling doesn’t seem too phased about the situation. In fact, the former Travelscape.com (sold to Expedia) owner believes that US internet poker’s breakthrough is coming. He said as much in a video that was recently released on Ultimate’s YouTube channel. Although he doesn’t list points in order during the discussion, Breitling did bring up several factors that indicate how legal online poker could soon experience a boon. That said, here are five points that he covered.
1. Poker Sites are up against Unrealistic Expectations
If it seems like Ultimate Poker and other sites have been a big fat failure so far, it’s because the bar was set too high to begin with. As Breitling points out, Nevada’s poker market was projected to generate $80 million in its first year while the New Jersey online gaming market was estimated to bring in anywhere from $250 million to $1.2 billion. The UP Chairman says that analysts spent lots of time considering in-depth factors to come up with their projections, but in the end, Breitling emphasizes, “The revenue estimates were too high.”
2. Poker Players aren’t used to the Red Tape surrounding US Online Poker
Breitling believes that revenue estimates were bloated because of the red tape that’s been strangling internet poker. “When regulations enter the picture, there are complications that cut into the size of the market.” He continues by saying, “People who’d played online poker in the past never had to go through this new, detailed process filled with extra clicks. No company ever before had asked for a Social Security Number or for geolocation information. It was like asking people to take their shoes off and step through a metal detector at the airport after years of walking straight to the gate.” All of these extra precautions have no doubt turned off some recreational players.
3. The Legal Market only covers 4% of America’s Population
One obvious, but crucial, point that Breitling makes is that the US legal market only covers about 4% of the American population. New Jersey is a good-sized state with 8.9 million people, however, Nevada and Delaware are both pretty small. This being the case, the big hope for legal poker sites right now is for a larger percentage of the US to open up to internet gaming.
4. 91% of the US Population owns a Mobile Phone
Mobile poker is a sector of the game that’s increasing rapidly these days. Couple this with the amount of Americans who own a mobile phone, and you’ve got another potentially big sign that online poker is on the rise. “91 percent of US adults now have a mobile phone and 2 out of 3 of them went to a land-based casino last year,” says Breitling. “These folks will soon be playing online – if they’re not already.”
5. Amazon and Google didn’t become Huge Overnight
It’s hard to think back to a time when cyber giants like Amazon and Google didn’t rule Ecommerce and search engine use. But Breitling has no problem remembering what these two companies were like in their infancy. “In the early days, it’s estimated that Amazon did $35,000 in revenue in its first month and $500,000 in its first year – 1995. Last year (2013) Amazon did $74.5 billion.” He adds, “Google answered 10,000 search queries a day back in 1998, and today they handle more than 100 billion searches every month. The point is you have to start somewhere.”
Is US online poker set to collectively become an Amazon or Google of the internet world? It will take years for this question to be answered. But in Breitling’s mind, he seems to think that the answer is yes.