According to a recent report published by Global Gaming Business News, gambling industry regulators in New Jersey have reached a potentially historic “agreement in principle” with their counterparts in the United Kingdom, one which would see online poker operators in both jurisdictions share player pool liquidity.
In early July the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE) sent letters to the owners of various online poker platforms within the state, along with others located in the U.K., requesting that they provide recommendations for an eventual player-sharing compact. The letter was sent after the NJDGE reached the aforementioned agreement in principle with the U.K. Gambling Commission to begin an exploratory process.
Based on estimates provided by NJDGE Director David Rebuck, such an agreement could serve to expand online poker access across common platforms like 888 Poker, PokerStars, GVC (formerly PartyPoker), Gamesys, and Betfair:
“With 9 million people in New Jersey, and more than 63 million in the United Kingdom, this would mean a massive increase in liquidity for New Jersey operators. Even when you discount children and non-gamblers, it gives us access to a market that is very familiar with online gaming. That number is one-fifth of the total U.S. population.”
New Jersey became the third American state to legalize and regulate online gambling, including poker, in February of 2013 – shortly after Nevada and Delaware moved to do the same. Several other states have initiated discussions on the matter, while online gambling or poker legislation has been passed in New York and Pennsylvania, awaiting only a governor’s signature to become law.
The major operators within New Jersey are WSOP.com (operated by 888 Poker and Caesars/Harrah’s), Borgata.com (Borgata and bwin.Party), and the newly reintroduced PokerStars (Amaya). With 888 Poker, PartyPoker, and PokerStars all among the U.K.’s industry leaders as well, the ability to share players across platforms and jurisdictions would be a game-changer for New Jersey’s fledgling online poker industry.
On the primary PokerStars.com site, for example, which serves players in the U.K, across Europe, and around the world, cash game volume typically hovers around 15,000 players, with 175,000 players frequenting the site at any one time. On the PokerStarsNJ.com site, however, the seven-day average stands at just 230 players – starkly illustrating the need to secure further player-sharing agreements.
NJDGE Director Rebuck was careful to caution patience as the process continues, pointing out that a number of logistical hurdles must be overcome in order to finalize such a wide-ranging jurisdictional arrangement:
“We’d still have to figure out lots of issues: specific regulations, how the tax rate from each jurisdiction would be applied, player ID and geolocation issues, and other things we probably haven’t even considered yet. But you have to start somewhere.”
The concept of player liquidity sharing is quite simple, as sites operating in distinct jurisdictions allow access to players located in either. A player living in London, for example, would be able to compete against an opponent living in Atlantic City through the same online tournament or cash game.
Nevada and Delaware began their own player-sharing compact in March of last year, allowing players in either state to access the WSOP.com client and compete against one another.