Ever since online poker became a legal activity in the US states of Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey, shared liquidity has been a hot topic. Nevada and Delaware are still working to implement a player pooling compact signed in February, but New Jersey has made no moves to join them. Now, regulators in the Garden State are saying they have no intention of sharing liquidity anytime in the near future.
New Jersey online poker players have been anticipating an eventual compact between their home state and other jurisdictions where online poker sites are licensed, but those hopes were dashed last week. In an interview with the Associated Press, David Rebuck, Director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, said that player pooling with other jurisdictions in not in the state’s immediate forecast.
Rebuck told reporters that they have begun tentative talks with Nevada, as well as regulators in the United Kingdom. However, the discussions are still in the earliest of stages, and it could be several months before any agreements are chiseled in stone; much longer before the systems are prepared, tested and authorized for implementation.
Teaming up with Nevada would be of great benefit to the Silver State, but doesn’t hold nearly the same brilliant potential for New Jersey. Nevada’s population is one-third that of New Jersey’s. Thus a player pooling compact would increase Nevada’s liquidity by about 300%, while boosting the Garden State only 33%.
A compact with the United Kingdom could be much more lucrative for the Garden State. Unfortunately, it would be all-but-guaranteed to come with miles upon miles of legal red tape. Logically, it may be impossible to enter a compact with both Nevada and the UK – especially if Nevada isn’t on board with the plan. Ostensibly, these issues (and surely many more) are decelerating the process of interstate player pooling for New Jersey’s regulators.
One way or another, though, Rebuck did say that shared liquidity is a long-term goal for New Jersey’s online poker market. “Regardless of how it is ultimately done, increasing the player pool is a must for the long-term health of the New Jersey online poker market,” said the Director. “A lack of players can cripple an online poker site or network, as it makes it more difficult to attract new blood if there aren’t games or tournaments running that interest them.”
Another popular topic of discussion came up during the interview when Rebuck was asked about the impending launch of PokerStars in New Jersey. PokerStars is the largest online poker brand in the world, and its presence in the Garden State would surely incite a significant boost in player participation. Previous reports indicated that PokerStars could be up and running as early as September of this year, but a number of delays prevented that from happening.
Rebuck said that Amaya Gaming, owner of PokerStars’ parent company, Rational Group, has applied for a license from the DGE, but that the review process is still underway. He confirmed that, if a license is granted, ultimate approval for PokerStars entry in New Jersey cannot be realistically achieved until early 2015, at best.