Interstate compact is good news for online poker in all three states

New Jersey, Nevada And Delaware Will Share Online Poker Player Pools After Gov. Christie Signs Deal

This article may be outdated. Get the latest news on New Jersey here.

US online poker liquidity is going to receive a major boost, as New Jersey has announced it has entered into an interstate compacy with Nevada and Delaware.

The deal will “allow Internet gaming patrons in New Jersey to play online against players in those two states.” Delaware and Nevada already had a compact to share player pools.

That should be good news for all three states in terms of the size and quality of their poker offerings, and will make online poker more attractive for users in those states.

While New Jersey online casino revenue has been on an upward trend since launch, NJ online poker has had difficulty in finding its footing. This will undoubtedly help the bottom line for iPoker in New Jersey.

The timeline for sharing player pools is to be determined and will be based on conversations between regulators in the states, according to sources.

Good news for NJ online poker

Per a press release issued today, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced an agreement has been reached with Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and Delaware Gov. John Carney.

“New Jersey has been a pioneer in the development of authorized, regulated online gaming, which has been a budding success since its launch in late 2013,” Christie said. “Pooling players with Nevada and Delaware will enhance annual revenue growth, attract new consumers, and create opportunities for players and Internet gaming operators.

“This agreement marks the beginning of a new and exciting chapter for online gaming, and we look forward to working with our partners in Nevada and Delaware in this endeavor.”

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What the NJ deal does

Pending approval by state regulators, licensed operators will now be able to:

  • Pool online poker players
  • Increase the size of their progressive jackpots

“New Jersey stands prepared to approve a game offering for all three states as soon as an operator submits such a product for testing,” said David Rebuck, director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.

In July, Rebuck had said he had “reopened the dialogue” with Nevada regulators on the topic of an interstate compact.

The Nevada online poker side of the equation

From Nevada’s standpoint, both WSOP and 888 Poker are already licensed in the state.

Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman AG Burnett did not offer a precise timeline, but did tell Online Poker Report the process to share liquidity is already underway.

“The technology teams in Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware are going to meet to discuss next steps,” Burnett said. “The timeline is to move toward integration ASAP.”

WSOP applauds the decision

WSOP, which is the only operator that currently serves both Nevada and NJ, was obviously happy with the decision. Here’s the statement via Caesars Interactive Entertainment:

“We applaud the government leadership and the regulators in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware for reaching this meaningful agreement. We will immediately begin efforts to take our existing Delaware-Nevada compact and add New Jersey to the mix by following the requirements established by the regulators so can share liquidity with all three states.”

WSOP NV and WSOP NJ will not share liquidity immediately, but will wait for approval from regulators on doing so.

Questions and answers for NJ online poker (and Nevada and Delaware)

Today’s news presents a lot of questions, many of which we don’t have answers to.

What’s the timeline for sharing online poker player pools?

It’s not clear that anyone knows the answer to this. It could be days or weeks, but the answer is more likely months.

New Jersey and Nevada have already discussed the issue, but implementing the agreement might take some time. It could also has the potential to take effect quickly, for the sites that are already licensed across jurisdictions. Which brings us to…

Who are the winners and losers in US online poker?

The big winner is clearly WSOP/888. It will have to jump through few, if any, hoops to get up and running, as it is already licensed by Nevada and New Jersey.

Meanwhile, PokerStars stands to be a big loser. Current iGaming law in Nevada (with“bad-actor” language) appears to preclude that online poker operator from serving the state into perpetuity. Barring a change in the law, which is unlikely to come, PokerStars is probably shut out of benefiting from the compact.

In the middle is the poker network of Borgata / PartyPoker NJ. MGM owns Borgata and also is obviously in Nevada, from a land-based standpoint. But it doesn’t operate online poker in the state currently. GVC powers the online poker software on that network, and it would need to be cleared in Nevada to serve both states. It’s not clear anyone would think any of these parties would see compacting as a useful endeavor, just for online poker.

What does this mean for Nevada online poker and Delaware online poker?

Players in these two states stand to see increased cash game player and much bigger tournament prize pools than they have access to currently. (That goes at least for WSOP/888, when they launch player sharing across all three states.)

Liquidity across Nevada and Delaware has been hamstrung by the relatively low number of players in both states, but both may see upticks within their states, with the addition of NJ players to the mix.

- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.
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