The Garden State has its eyes on expanding its online poker network via linking up with Nevada and Pennsylvania. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement has reportedly begun discussions with Nevada about online poker liquidity sharing. Pennsylvania is still in the process of integrating regulated online gaming, but if they are successful, New Jersey plans to approach them with the same proposal. Currently residents of NJ have the option of playing with state based online poker sites, or legally licensed offshore poker sites that accept players from NJ. NJ players do not currently have access to the poker sites in Nevada or Delaware.
Unfortunately for New Jersey, the current law states that licensed online operators housed in NJ are allowed to service local residents. This means that Nevada and Pennsylvania would be required to have servers located in New Jersey in order for the compact to work. It is for this exact reason that talks with the UK Gaming Commission to form a player pool between New Jersey and the UK broke down. Both parties were apparently close to bringing the deal to fruition, but it just did not make sense logistically. The UK would have to relocate some of their game serves to New Jersey, which makes even less sense than Nevada or Pennsylvania doing so.
The UK online poker industry is already part of a large international market through big-name providers like PokerStars. A deal with New Jersey would have restricted that access and forced them to enter a much smaller player pool, not to mention a new poker market that is still working through its kinks. The UK does not have any incentive to join up with New Jersey, especially at the cost of closing business with PokerStars. It makes more sense for New Jersey to join forces with other states before trying to enter the international liquidity pool.
New Jersey is one of the first states to introduce legal and regulated online casinos and poker. It has been quite successful for the state, raking in nearly $700 million in revenue before it hits its 4-year anniversary this November. Casino games dominate the local market and poker has actually dipped since its debut, but analysts believe an interstate compact would revitalize the numbers. Before the NJ’s ventures into domestically regulated internet gambling, residents were able to access legally sanctioned online gambling sites that provide betting services to NJ gamblers. State regulated online gambling has expanded the menu of options and provided some significant funding to state coffers.
Another potential spike in the market could come through an unlikely source—sports betting. The Supreme Court is currently hearing a case with New Jersey regarding a proposed sports gambling market. The state is fighting against the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and NCAA on the grounds that it is their constitutional right to be able to host sports betting. If SCOTUS rules in their favor, New Jersey would be able to integrate sports betting into their Atlantic City casinos, racinos and online platforms. Analysts believe that with sports betting as the draw, poker numbers could increase as well.
There are a few other states in the process of drafting legislation that would allow legal online casinos and poker. The more states that pass laws doing so, the more potential candidates there are for interstate compacts. Ideally, the US will soon be made up of a coalition of states offering a dense poker market. New Jersey and Nevada will likely make up the first wave, but expect other states to follow through should the numbers pan out.