A proposed pooling of New Jersey and United Kingdom online poker players has some salivating at the future of iGaming in the state.
The possible pooling was first reported by GGB News earlier this month, when the site’s coverage included statements from NJ Department of Gaming Enforcement Director David Rebuck.
The DGE boss’ quotes pointed out what’s probably the biggest advantage to a partnership: the population of the UK.
“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,” Rebuck said.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that New Jersey players will be able to play in tournaments and cash games with UK players, even if a deal is reached.
With such a huge proposition, questions abound
While at face value the pooling of players seems like an instant source of income, the system of regulations governing onshore and offshore gambling make the proposed partnership a tricky process.
Rebuck acknowledged as much in his GBB interview:
“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.”
How will New Jersey deal with location-based server regulations?
Aside from regulatory concerns, there remain big questions about pooling. Chiefly, would NJ players be able to play with UK players?
Part of the question lies in New Jersey’s strict rules about where in the state gambling can take place.
As Online Poker Report‘s Chris Grove pointed out this month, gambling can only legally take place in Atlantic City. This carries over into online gambling, as all gambling servers for regulated sites are located in A.C. That begs the question: How exactly would pooling work?
“The New Jersey constitution effectively forbids casino-style gambling taking place anywhere in the state except Atlantic City,” Grove wrote. “It’s long been unclear how much flexibility there is in the server requirement. But if there’s little-to-no flexibility, then true player pooling with the U.K. wouldn’t be possible.”
However, the possibility remains of true player pooling if a workaround can be developed. Of course, NJ has already eschewed sharing player pools by compacting with Nevada and Delaware, states where online poker is also legal.
PokerStars leads the way in both locations
Though regulations and populations are different in both parts of the world, the one thing NJ and the UK have in common is the popularity of PokerStars.
The site is the most lucrative platform in New Jersey (in its short time in operation) and across the pond, where it has about 17,500 players at any point during the day.
If the shared player pool is possible, not every site may be on board with the partnership because of the advantage it could afford PokerStars.
How long will it take?
It’s hard to say when a huge move like this would go through, but, as Rebuck expressed earlier this month, the DGE would prefer things happen sooner than later.
The organization sent a letter to companies who operate their gambling sites in both locations, requesting they respond by Aug. 1. Logistical concerns probably mean any sort of pooling would take months to institute, in a best-case scenario.
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