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Christie: I’ve Spoken With Sandoval About Cooperating on Online Poker

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie confirmed today that he’s had discussions with Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval about sharing player pools for online poker.

That’s per a tweet from Howard Stutz of the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

Stutz was was in New Jersey covering a gaming summit attended by Christie.

Christie’s comments regarding the potential for New Jersey were overshadowed by his announcement earlier in the day that New Jersey’s casinos and racetracks were (more or less) free to start accepting sports bets.

States already cooperate on shared slots prize pools

Sharing online poker player pools wouldn’t actually be the first interstate gambling cooperation between Nevada and New Jersey.

In August of this year, Nevada and New Jersey casinos went live with a series of progressive slots, spread over hundreds of machines, that pool jackpot contributions from players in both states.

While obviously not identical to a slot machine, online poker is conceptually similar in terms of the interstate transaction that takes place between players participating in the same game but in different states.

Nevada and Delaware pact to launch in 2015?

Nevada has already announced plans to pool players with Delaware, the only other state to offer regulated online poker in the status quo.

That arrangement was originally forecast to go live in late 2014. But 888 CEO Brian Mattingley recently suggested that early 2015 may be a more realistic target.

The pairing of Nevada and Delaware will likely serve as a test run of sorts for an expanded agreement, or for similar agreements between other states.

Impact of a New Jersey / Nevada online poker pact

Despite having a population about 3.2x the size of Nevada’s, New Jersey’s online poker market is only about 2-2.2x the size of Nevada’s, at least when measured by average cash game traffic as reported by PokerScout.com.

Nevada’s partnership with Delaware would likely already be online by the time New Jersey and Nevada struck a deal, meaning that Delaware would (likely) be included in the NJ / NV partnership. And that the Nevada and Delaware markets would already be enjoying the benefits of cooperation.

Finally, the partnership would benefit from network effects post-pooling – the whole would certainly be at least somewhat greater than the sum of its parts.

Roll it all up, and you could make the argument that a liquidity sharing agreement with Nevada could nearly double the effective liquidity available to online poker players in New Jersey.

The question of regulatory harmony

Neither Delaware or New Jersey had any sort of restriction on what entities could apply for iGaming licensing. But Nevada does have a so-called “bad actor” clause with a brightline of Dec 31st, 2006.

That could result in a situation where an entity duly licensed in New Jersey is ineligible to operate in Nevada.

Similarly, we could end up with a software platform (or similar asset) that’s fully approved in New Jersey but, if utilized in Nevada, could cost a casino its license to operate online gambling.

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Chris Grove
- Chris is the publisher of OnlinePokerReport.com. Grove also serves as a consultant to various stakeholders in the regulated market for online gambling in the United States.