On Wednesday, Nevada’s Gaming Control Board approved a plan that would see gaming operator 888 Holdings construct an intrastate iPoker network in Nevada.
As outlined by 888 reps, the arrangement will conjoin players on Nevada’s most heavily trafficked online poker room – Caesars Interactive Entertainment’s WSOP.com – with a yet to launch 888 skin and a third skin operated by 888’s b&m partner, Las Vegas based casino resort Treasure Island.
Reaching further, Nevada’s poker network could very well serve as the foundation of a shared network between the players of the Silver State and Delaware.
The formation of a shared liquidity network may also prompt similar moves in New Jersey, the ramifications of which could have a profound effect on the Garden State’s nascent industry.
How will 888’s Nevada-based iPoker network function?
According to 888 representatives Mark Clayton and Yehoshua Gurtler, once the network is formed players will be able to log-in via the WSOP.com or Treasure Island skin. From that point forward, they’ll be competing against players from their preferred skin and the network’s other sites – similar to how US-facing networks such as Merge and WPN operate.
A similar network already exists in New Jersey, where BorgataPoker.com and NJ.PartyPoker.com utilize the same client software and share player liquidity, with the only differences between their promotional schedules along with some slight aesthetic dissimilarities.
Clayton also indicated that the network would allow other operators to join. This is especially good news for smaller operators, who would have difficulty thriving in Nevada’s small and supersaturated iPoker market.
To date, only WSOP.com, Ultimate Poker and South Point’s Real Gaming are currently operating in Nevada, with the latter generating next to no monthly revenue. Treasure Island, while approved for a license, has yet to have its online poker offering authorized by state regulators.
Nevada network a step towards shared liquidity with Delaware
Last February, the Governors of Delaware and Nevada signed the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement, which when enacted will hail the first interstate iGaming compact in the United States.
Delaware’s three iPoker skins, all of which share player liquidity, already utilize 888’s client software. Should the Nevada Gaming Commission approve the implementation of the state’s iPoker network at a July 24 hearing, it would prove a necessary stepping stone towards seeing the Delaware-Nevada interstate compact agreement become a reality.
Seeing as though the Commission foresaw online poker networks forming in Nevada as early as 2012, the hearing should ultimately prove a mere formality.
Could something similar happen in New Jersey?
Yes, and it should. Since the industry’s launch in late-November, 888 and WSOP have been in direct competition with one another. Why? That’s anyone’s guess.
888 in particular, has failed to find its niche in the marketplace, often times resulting to promotional “fire sales” to generate traffic. WSOP has performed more admirably, but one wonders just how severe the traffic falloff from the live WSOP coming to an end will be.
Regardless, the fact remains that if either room hopes to eventually topple perennial front-runner PartyPoker NJ, they’re going to have to join forces. And considering that the two already use 888’s Dragonfish software and that existing New Jersey iGaming law permits iPoker “skins,” the process of combining liquidity across the two rooms should prove relatively painless.
Also, by operating as one network, it’s likely that 888 / WSOP will generate more total traffic than the summation of what they pull in on their own.
Finally, joining forces will come in especially useful when PokerStars enters the picture, as a bunch of fragmented poker sites will hardly stand a chance against the online poker behemoth.
An entire network…now that may be a different story.