On Monday, September 8, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie attended a gaming summit at the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) in Atlantic City where he discussed many aspects of the state’s gambling industry. The closed-door meeting was also attended by a reporter from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Howard Stutz. According to a tweet from Stutz, Gov. Christie admitted that he has “spoken” with Nevada’s Gov. Sandoval about the potential for sharing liquidity among the two jurisdiction’s online poker markets.
Nevada already signed a player pooling compact with Delaware in February of this year. The systems developed to integrate a player pooling network have already been approved by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, but have yet to go into effect. However, the current online poker traffic in Nevada and Delaware doesn’t amount to much at this time; an average of about 160 players combined at any given time (note that 155 of those come from Nevada, only 5 from Delaware, according to PokerScout). If New Jersey were to add its average 215 players to the mix, the impact could be much greater.
The information from Howard Stutz came Monday evening when he tweeted the following message, “When asked about a NJ-Nev Internet gaming pact, @GovChristie says he’s “spoken ” to @GovSandoval about the idea #lvrj”.
Shared liquidity wouldn’t exactly be a new concept between Nevada and New Jersey. Just last month, a plan to share progressive slot machine prize pools went into effect between the two states. Thus sharing poker players over the internet wouldn’t be that far of a stretch compared to the initiatives already taken to boost interstate gambling activities.
The compact between Nevada and Delaware was originally anticipated to take effect before the end of this year, but 888 CEO Brian Mattingly thinks early 2015 is a more realistic goal. Either way, player pooling between those states is likely to occur before any negotiations between Nevada and New Jersey are finalized. If and when the three states’ online poker markets do come together in a coalescent manner, it could potentially double the overall value of these markets.
Online poker players in all three states have complained time and again that there simply aren’t enough players in the mix to keep them wholly interested. By that degree, one must assume that there are potential players in all three locations who don’t bother to play poker online at this time. Thus the sharing of player pools not only stands to increase interest for current players, but could draw a whole new group of players to the virtual felt.
The only visible problem standing in the way right now would be one of regulatory differences. For example, Nevada imposes a bad actor’s clause, whereas New Jersey simply requires any vendor to undergo a rigorous background check that may or may not result in approval. For example, PokerStars is restricted from entering the Nevada online poker market, despite the buy-out by Amaya Gaming earlier this year, whereas New Jersey is expected to welcome the online poker giant with open arms. Thus some operators may not be eligible to join in shared liquidity if they don’t meet the opposing jurisdiction’s regulatory guidelines.