With a $28 million buyout of Avenue Capital, 888 Holdings exists as the sole owner of the All American Poker Network (AAPN). Avenue Capital is the previous investment partner of 888 Holdings, but now the company, known for its 888 Poker site, is going it alone.
The CEO of 888 Holdings, Itai Frieberger, spoke of the acquisition of Avenue and the remaining stake in the AAPN marking a “strategic step” in 888’s long-term plans for the US market. It was Avenue that previously held a 53% stake in the company, but this was picked up entirely by 888.
In actuality, 888 Poker exists as the only online poker room to provide its services to all three of the states currently providing legal online poker gambling, those being New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware. Additionally, it is aiming to be in the Pennsylvania market at the start of 2019, and it currently supplies software to the WSOP New Jersey and Nevada sites.
The AAPN network has been in operation since 2013, originally being set up by the 888 group and Avenue. This was all done in the lead-up to the launch of the network in Nevada and New Jersey, while other states laid dormant when it came to the laws surrounding poker.
The dormancy still remains in most states, although there is potential for this to change in the near future. However, some did believe that more states would swiftly legalise online poker, following in the footsteps of the few others that already have. This never took place, though.
Casinos Outperforming Poker?
It seems as though there has been somewhat of a reason behind the hesitation of other states to legalise online poker, considering that online casinos have consistently outperformed such sites. Year-on-year declines seem to have become quite the norm for poker revenue, which doesn’t particularly place it in a great light. And even with interstate poker networks up and running, traffic and, subsequently, revenue has continued to dip. This has led many online operators to move their focus across to online casinos and sports betting instead.
The main hope for online poker in the United States now rests in the state of Pennsylvania. Many believe that it will begin pooling its poker players with the other states offering it legally, flooding the network with a greater number of players. Yet, there seems to be a couple of flaws in this method of thinking.
It’s likely that if Pennsylvania does go ahead with the interstate poker network, this won’t take place until sometime in 2020 at the earliest. It’s not just a simple task of poker platforms snapping their fingers and it immediately happening. It’s a timely process.
Not only that, but while Pennsylvania’s total population does match the other three legal states of Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware combined, it’s still not a huge amount that will integrate into the poker network. Why? Because about a quarter of the population are underage minors and not everybody in the state has ambitions of playing online poker.
Could the United States online poker scene destroy itself before it can even reach any kind of high-popularity base?