[toc]After four years of refusing to share, New Jersey is learning to play well with others when it comes to online poker players.
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) and Gov. Chris Christie announced earlier this month that it will begin sharing players with both Nevada and New Jersey.
New Jersey officials have new enthusiasm about gambling compacts
Previously New Jersey officials seemed uninterested in sharing player pools. This might be in part because New Jersey is the only state with online casinos. Really, New Jersey is the only state generating revenue from online gambling because of it. So, pooling poker players seemed to be a drop in the bucket, and the NJ online gambling bucket was big enough.
However, now the online poker industry in New Jersey not only is not growing much, it is shrinking. While online casino sites in New Jersey continue to grow by leaps and bounds, poker is stalling. The drop-off is such that now pooling players actually does make some fiscal sense for the Garden State.
Christie seemed very optimistic about the upside of the compacts in his official press release:
”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.”
Currently, New Jersey online gambling comprises 10 percent of total casino revenue in New Jersey. Of that, only 10 percent currently comes from online poker.
WSOP.com will be first to start pooling online poker players
As of now, there is only one operator offering online poker in both New Jersey and Nevada. That is Caesars Entertainment’s site, WSOP.com. Because it is the only site already set up, it is pretty clear it will be the first to offer shared-pool cash games and tournaments.
However, do not expect the site to just flip a switch and go. The compact introduces some new regulatory components, including server locations. It will likely take until 2018 before anything is launched and ready to roll out.
The good news for WSOP.com is that several key competitors might have difficulty getting into Nevada. Most notably, PokerStars. While PokerStars is the market leader in the New Jersey, Nevada regulations actually exclude the company from coming into the state.
Nevada allows individuals who offered offshore gambling after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) passed to enter the state’s regulated market after a five-year period sitting out. Nevada does not make the same allowance for entities. As such, PokerStars will be on the outside looking in.