Last year Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed a historic interstate online poker agreement that would see the two states share players. The deal was signed in February of 2014, and many expected it to be in effect before the end of 2014, but thus far nothing has materialized.
We now appear to be one step closer to actualizing legal interstate online poker in the U.S.
This week Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval told the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Steve Tetreault (scroll to end of column) regulators have informed him final approval for the interstate agreement was “imminent.” Sandoval blamed the delays on technical glitches.
According to Sandoval, interstate online poker between Delaware and Nevada could be up and running in 4-6 weeks.
Only companies licensed in both jurisdictions will be allowed to pool players, which means the only beneficiary at this time will be 888 in Delaware and WSOP.com in Nevada.
888 (along with their partner Scientific Games) has a monopoly on Delaware online poker, which is run through the state lottery, and presently WSOP.com is the only online poker room of significance in Nevada following the demise of Ultimate Poker – South Point’s Real Gaming online poker room has been unable to gain any momentum in the market.
What about 888’s intrastate network?
The timeline given by Sandoval lines up with the projected timeline offered by 888 over six months ago, in August of 2014. At that time 888 CEO Brian Mattingley told Bluff Magazine he expected two more 888-powered online poker rooms to launch in Nevada in Q4 of 2014 or Q1 of 2015, and that interstate poker would soon follow.
These two rooms, an 888-branded site and a TI-branded site, would team up with Caesars WSOP.com to form the All American Poker Network in Nevada – 888 and WSOP.com are already sharing players in New Jersey.
It now seems unlikely that these two rooms will launch before the interstate agreement is put into action.
Success could be a lure for NJ
If Nevada and Delaware can demonstrate that shared liquidity is a win-win it may help bring New Jersey into the Multi State Internet Gaming Association.
There have been several allusions to New Jersey joining the MSIGA and pooling their players with Delaware and Nevada. The first was by New Jersey iGaming consultant Mario Galea at iGNA 2014, but Chris Christie and the New Jersey DGE have also indicated interstate agreements are being considered.
One issue that will likely complicate things in New Jersey is the presence of real competition to 888/WSOP.com, which makes the whole thing a bit more political.
Borgata and partypoker are not going to be thrilled to see an interstate agreement enacted that only benefits WSOP.com and 888, and if PokerStars enters the fray they will likely feel the same way.
Interstate online poker in New Jersey may have to wait until these operators are up and running in other states in order to balance the playing field.
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