The combination of Nevada’s and Delaware’s online poker player pools may be around the corner. Finally. According to Steve Tetreault of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval has said that the year-old interstate gaming compact between the two states will finally have its promise met within the next month or two.
Despite being the gambling capital of the United States and arguably the world (Macau might take exception to the latter categorization), Nevada has not seen its online poker industry thrive since it launched in April 2013. People have offered up many reasons for its unimpressive run, but really, it all boils down to a lack of players. Online poker markets need liquidity and with an estimated 2.8 million residents, Nevada ranks as just the 35th largest state in the U.S., not nearly enough to support a thriving online poker regime. Ultimate Poker was the first regulated poker site to open in the state and even with its huge first mover advantage, it died (granted, there were other reasons it failed beyond state population, but the small player pool did the site no favors). Right now, there is only one viable site in the state and it isn’t even pulling in 200 cash game players a day.
Governor Sandoval and Delaware Governor Jack Markell understand the importance of player liquidity (Delaware has only a third of Nevada’s population) and a year ago tomorrow signed the “Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement,” a deal which allows poker players in one state to access poker sites in the other. Currently, residents of the three states that allow online gambling – Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey – can only play on sites located in their state. Delaware has three online poker rooms, all associated with the state’s three race tracks. The state also allows online casino gambling, but the agreement is just for poker, as Nevada’s law only permits internet poker.
The player pools were expected to have been merged last summer, but according to the Review-Journal article, “technical glitches” created delays. Governor Sandoval now says the player pool convergence is “imminent,” coming in four to six weeks.
It will likely help Delaware much more than it will Nevada, as Delaware’s market is but a blip on the online poker radar. Even a small increase in players on an absolute scale will be large for Delaware on a relative scale. Both states may get an extra benefit from the combination, though, as higher traffic poker rooms may create even more traffic as potential players see more attractive poker rooms and signup to play when they might not have previously.
This may also finally see the launch of the multi-state All American Poker Network (AAPN), operated by 888. WSOP.com in Nevada already runs 888’s software and 888 has made it known that it will launch its own room in the state. The Treasure Island casino is also planning an 888-based poker room; all three will combine to form AAPN in Nevada. When that’s up and running, it is also expected that the three Delaware rooms will hop on board, creating a six-room, two-state poker network. AAPN has operated in New Jersey since the launch of the Garden State’s online poker industry, but up until recently, it was only one poker room, 888poker. In January, 888poker and WSOP.com (NJ) merged the player pools at some of their tables, essentially creating a partial network. New Jersey has yet to make a deal with either of the other two states to share player pools, but they have talked.
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