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“I’m ready to go,” said the governor, adding, “It’s a win-win for both states.”
The governor was immediately backed by A.G. Burnett, the chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Burnett said that he was “ready, willing and able” to sign an interstate agreement with New Jersey.
The Policy Committee was clearly unsure as to why New Jersey was not equally enthusiastic.
The committee told the governor, who was chairing the meeting, that New Jersey had expressed constitutional concerns over the location of online poker game servers.
A.G Burnett replied that the issue was a “red herring” that could easily be solved.
The committee was enjoined to explore the issue further, in time for the next meeting in October, but the stumbling block is likely to be political rather than practical.
In November 2014, David Rebuck, Director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), gave an interview (paywall) to a Philadelphia newspaper in which he said that discussions on the issue had already taken place with Nevada. The DGE had also discussed the issue with regulators in the UK.
Unless the DGE was serious about the possibility, no discussions would have been initiated.
Rebuck’s support for shared liquidity can be deduced, but in public statements he can only say that there is no deal imminent for “reciprocal agreements to expand online gambling.”
Even with his massive economic footprint in Nevada, Las Vegas Sands owner Sheldon Adelson has been unable to prevent online poker being authorized, but his wider campaign against online gambling is also powerful in New Jersey.
He has also linked Governor Christie with supporting Adelson behind the scenes. In November 2014, Lesniak tweeted his opinion.
Before and during Governor Christie’s failed bid to secure the Republican presidential nomination, there were reports of him receiving and giving support to Adelson.
Adelson told Bloomberg TV that he had had conversations with Christie about the original bill which introduced state-regulated online gambling in New Jersey.
Christie has acknowledged that he has had conversations with Adelson, and taken trips on Adelson’s private jet, but he has resolutely denied that he interfered in any way with the PokerStars license application.
Nonetheless, there appears to be little political upside for Christie to extend New Jersey’s regulated gambling market or agree a shared liquidity compact with Nevada.
However, now that Christie’s presidential bid has failed, he may no longer need as much support from Adelson.
If Nevada is to succeed in its bid to unify the Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey poker markets, it will have to rely on the possibility that the issue has become politically neutral–this year may still be too early.