Following four years of negotiation, the governors of New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware have finally agreed to share online poker player pools.
The interstate iGaming compact links the three jurisdictions – which are currently the only three American states offering legal online gambling – by allowing poker players to compete against one another across state lines.
Nevada and Delaware forged a similar agreement in 2015, with operator 888 Holdings combining online poker player pools across its WSOP.com (Nevada) and 888Poker (Delaware) platforms.
But iGaming industry experts have long contended that the New Jersey market – which is much larger and more active – was the lynchpin to improving lagging player liquidity levels.
Within an isolated iGaming market, also known as “ring-fenced” markets, online poker players can only compete against opponents located in the same jurisdiction. This limitation serves as an artificial cap on liquidity, forcing major platforms like WSOP.com operating in more than one market to divide their customer base by location.
Conversely, under the liquidity sharing programs prevalent in the European and international markets, operators can combine player pools from multiple countries – thus expanding game selection and activity across the board.
In a statement, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey praised the long-awaited agreement as a vital step in the state’s continuing iGaming evolution:
“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.”
David Rebuck, who serves as director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE), added a statement outlining his agency’s regulatory approach to player sharing:
“New Jersey stands prepared to approve a game offering for all three states as soon as an operator submits such a product for testing.”
Rebuck’s counterpart in Nevada – chairman A.G. Burnett of the Nevada Gaming Control Board – spoke with Online Poker Report to provide perspective from the Silver State:
“The technology teams in Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware are going to meet to discuss next steps.
The timeline is to move toward integration ASAP.”
As Burnett mentioned, Christie’s announcement included no details on when implementation will begin.
The company which stands to benefit most from eventual player sharing is Caesars Interactive Entertainment, which owns and operates WSOP.com – the only online poker platform in Nevada. Using software provided by 888 Holdings, Caesars also operates WSOP.com in New Jersey – making it the only site with an active presence in both states.
The three iGaming platforms operated by the Delaware Lottery have an exclusive software provision agreement with 888 Holdings.
Caesars issued a statement praising regulators in all three states for coming to an agreement after years of deliberation:
“We applaud the government leadership and the regulators in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware for reaching this meaningful agreement.
We will immediately begin efforts to take our existing Delaware-Nevada compact and add New Jersey to the mix by following the requirements established by the regulators so WSOP.com can share liquidity with all three states.”
Caesars also holds the license for 888Poker in New Jersey, making it the only entity which could immediately share online poker player liquidity across all three states.
New Jersey’s other major online poker network – which includes BorgataPoker, PartyPoker, and PlayMGMPoker – is maintained by MGM Resorts International, owner of the Borgata casino in Atlantic City.
MGM’s status as a major player in Nevada land-based gaming makes the company a likely candidate to launch similar networks there, which would then be linked to their counterparts in New Jersey.
As for PokerStars, which went live in New Jersey just last year, language within Nevada’s iGaming regulations specifically prohibits the company from operating there. As such, PokerStars wouldn’t be able to benefit from interstate player sharing for the foreseeable future.