New Jersey Joins Nevada-Delaware Interstate Poker Compact

New Jersey Interstate Poker Compact - Nevada Delaware iPoker

David Rebuck had negotiated with regulators in Nevada and Delaware for the past 2 years.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie plans to sign an interstate poker liquidity deal with Delaware and Nevada, which could change the face of US online poker. New Jersey poker players will be able to play for real money against card players in Delaware and Nevada.

Gov. Chrisie reached an agreement this week with Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and Delaware Gov. John Carney. In 2015, Delaware and Nevada signed a liquidity-sharing agreement. New states could join the interstate poker compact by agreeing to the same terms. For the deal to become final, regulatory agencies in all three states need to approve the revised interstate poker compact.

The deal is good news for all three states, which should be able to increase and the size of their weekend guaranteed prize pools and daily events. Since the interstate poker compact makes the game more attractive for players in all 3 states, it should spur growth beyond the current player pools.

New Jersey Signs Interstate Poker Compact

Having access to New Jersey’s pool of card players should help Delaware and Nevada most, but New Jersey is positioning itself to reap the benefits of further growth in the United States online poker market. Pennsylvania came close to passing an online poker bill this year, and most expect New Jersey’s neighbor to pass an omnibus gambling bill in 2018 to help a budget shortfall.

Gov. Chris Christie touted Jersey’s inclusion in the Nevada-Delaware compact, saying in a press statement, “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.”

Good New for New Jersey Online Poker

New Jersey’s online casino market has seen steady growth over the years and been deemed a success, but the online poker niche has had trouble maintaining steady growth. The new deal should foster growth in the short term, though it is the long term implications of other states joining which hold out the most promise for the Garden State.

The compact should help New Jersey’s online casinos, too. Besides sharing poker liquidity, an interstate compact should allow for the sharing of progressive jackpots across state lines. Thus, New Jersey online casinos might feature progressive slots with bigger jackpots in the near future.

DGE Director Praises Poker Deal

The director of the Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), New Jersey’s gambling regulator, David Rebuck, said of Christie’s decision, “New Jersey stands prepared to approve a game offering for all three states as soon as an operator submits such a product for testing.”

David Rebuck has negotiated off-and-on for two years to join the interstate gaming compact. In July, Rebuck told the press he had “reopened the dialogue” with Nevada and Delaware. Around that time, the DGE’s director called for changes to New Jersey’s online gambling bill this past summer to facilitate coordination with other states, because the law previously required anyone joining with New Jersey to house their servers inside New Jersey itself. The New Jersey state legislature since complied with that request.

New Jersey/UK Online Poker Compact

Beyond the possibility of Pennsylvania joining the compact, David Rebuck has sought a poker liquidity deal with the United Kingdom — which would be a particular coup for Governor Christie and his DGE. The United Kingdom has one of the most stable and substantial online poker communities in the world. While New Jersey has 8.9 million residents, Nevada 2.94 million, and Delaware only 952 thousand, the UK poker pool is 65.6 million people.

The original interstate poker compact negotiated between Brian Sandoval and John Carney envisioned dozens of states sharing poker liquidity, not unlike the multi-state lottery associations, Powerball and Mega Millions. While the original two signatories are small US states, if they can get enough states to join the compact, the poker community reaches a critical mass at some point. When a certain threshold is crossed, the guaranteed Sunday prize pools become some of the largest in the world.

Caesars Entertainment’s Advantage

Caesars Entertainment’s online poker sites (Caesars, Harrah’s, stands to gain the most from the new interstate poker compact. It is positioned to easily handle interstate poker and should launch player-sharing as soon as it gets the greenlight. Caesars hosts gaming servers for the New Jersey and Delaware markets, while maintaining a robust land-based casino network in Nevada. Caesars Interactive also has dabbled with online poker in Nevada.

For that reason, Caesars released a press release full of effusive praise of the three states, “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 can share liquidity with all three states.”

PokerStars Banned from Nevada Poker?

PokerStars could be a big loser in the deal. While PokerStars has a license for online poker in New Jersey, “bad actor” legislation bars the world’s largest poker site from operating in Nevada. Barring an unlikely amendment to Nevada’s online poker bill, PokerStars will not be able to share players from the various states.

Impact on MGM Online Poker

The impact for MGM Resorts International is less certain. MGM Resorts is a major land-based casino operator in Nevada, while its Borgata brand is the most lucrative casino in Atlantic City. The Borgata / PartyPoker poker site was the most successful online card room in the New Jersey market until PokerStars launched.

Despite those factors, GVC powers the Borgata Online website and would need a license to operate in the Nevada market. It is uncertain whether that would be profitable for GVC to seek a Nevada gaming license, or whether some rearrangement of its operations would be worth the trouble only for online poker.

Once again, the possibility of states like Pennsylvania, California, and New York joining the interstate poker compact might convince MGM Resorts and its partners to invest in their online poker operations. That is left to the future, but it is undeniable that New Jersey making a commercial alliance with Nevada and Delaware is good news for the US online poker community.