[toc]Online poker players in Nevada could be the biggest winners coming out of the state of New Jersey’s decision to join the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement between Nevada and Delaware.
The agreement allows individuals in Nevada and Delaware to play online poker at the same tables. This has been in effect since March 2015. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced last week he had reached a new agreement with Nevada Gov.Brian Sandoval and Delaware Governor John Carney. This one will allow New Jersey online poker players to join in.
Now, it’s up to operators in the three states to apply. Then regulators can approve the games and software that will be used.
“New Jersey stands prepared to approve a game offering for all three states as soon as an operator submits such a product for testing,” New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement Director David Rebuck said in a release.
WSOP.com ready to roll
Caesars Interactive Entertainment and its online poker software provider 888 Poker appear to be the only entities currently prepared to launch shared games in all three states. Caesars Interactive Entertainment runs the WSOP.com online poker sites in both Nevada and New Jersey.
888 Poker runs three Delaware online poker sites in conjunction with the Delaware Park, Dover Downs, and Harrington Raceway racetracks. These sites currently share player liquidity with the World Series of Poker-branded online poker site in Nevada under the original agreement.
No other currently licensed online poker site has operations in more than one state.
The bad actor issue for PokerStars
PokerStars NJ is the online poker market leader in New Jersey. However, it continued to accept US customers after laws aimed at preventing it were passed. As a result, PokerStars ran afoul of a bad actor clause in Nevada’s online gambling legislation.
PokerStars’s ban from the Nevada market could be lifted in 2018 if the company could be considered a person. However, as an asset, PokerStars’s ban from the Nevada market appears indefinite.
MGM Resorts International recently launched online poker and casino operations in New Jersey under the playMGM brand. The company is also the largest casino operator in Nevada. It has more than a dozen hotel and casino developments on the Las Vegas Strip. MGM also has a sports betting app. However, it does not operate an online poker site in the state.
MGM could potentially begin efforts to launch a Nevada online poker site immediately. However, WSOP.com would presumably still enjoy some lead time alone in the tri-state market. This because MGM would still have to wait out development and regulatory approval.
Bigger prize pools, more cash games
From a player perspective, the outcome of New Jersey signing the agreement will ultimately be twofold. It should mean larger tournament prize pools. Plus there should be an increase in the number of cash game tables operating across all three states.
However, the combined populations of Nevada (2.94 million) and Delaware (952,065) are less than half of New Jersey’s 8.944 million. Therefore, the potential for growth in those two markets appears much greater.
In fact, by combining current player pools, cash game traffic will increase by 200 percent in Nevada and Delaware. However, that increase will be just 50 percent in New Jersey. Tournament prize pools will likely see a similar effect. Clearly, players in Nevada and Delaware will be seeing the greatest benefit from New Jersey signing on.
Growth across the board
However, these estimates fail to take into account an increase in traffic sites in New Jersey may see. Gov. Chris Christie explained in a release:
“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. 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.”
Still, a press release from Sandoval regarding the new agreement suggests the addition of New Jersey is most important. This because it significantly increases the number of eligible interactive gaming participants Nevada will soon have access to.
“New innovations and technological advancements are connecting more people and increasing the capabilities of Nevada’s gaming industry,” he said. “Gaming is one of our oldest industries and it’s imperative that we continue to look for new opportunities to explore its full potential in a changing frontier.”
The smaller the state, the greater the benefit
Clearly, the smaller the state, the greater the benefit. However, barring any immediate changes to the US online poker landscape, WSOP.com players will be the only ones enjoying those benefits for some time.
Even those players must now to play a bit of a waiting game. This could potentially come together much faster. However, it did take 13 months from the date they signed the original agreement for Nevada and Delaware to launch shared player pool games.