In what is another milestone in United States online poker history, Delaware and Nevada have combined their player pools, marking the first time there has ever been legal, regulated interstate internet poker in the country. The merge occurred last night in what is being termed a “soft launch” of the player pool sharing, as the poker sites in both sites have yet to heavily advertise the change.
Though the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) made the transfer of funds to and from “unlawful” online gambling sites illegal, it did include a clause that said states could make internet gambling legal within their borders. Once the Department of Justice clarified the Wire Act in late 2011 to say it only made online sports betting illegal, three states – Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey – took advantage of the UIGEA carve-out and launched their internet gambling regimes. The UIGEA also said that states could team up and create interstate gambling networks, which is what two of them are doing here.
This has been in the works since February 2014, when Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed the “Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement”(MSIGA). The Agreement does exactly what it sounds like it does: makes it legal for players in those two states to play at online tables with each other. Interstate gambling was expected to have launched much earlier than this, but apparently “technical glitches” held up the process. It makes sense, as well, that there may very well have been a lot of regulatory kinks to work out so that both states could feel comfortable with how the other would be running things on their end.
At the outset, there are four poker sites involved in the interstate player pooling: Nevada’s WSOP.com and Delaware’s DelawarePark.com, DoverDowns.com, and HarringtonGamingOnline.com, all of which use software provided by 888 Holdings. 888 also has plans to launch its own branded online poker room in Nevada and along with WSOP.com and a new offering from the Treasure Island casino, launch the All American Poker Network (AAPN). The three Delaware sites will also supposedly hop on board.
The player sharing will only be for poker, as Nevada does not allow other online gambling. It looks like, at least for now, players from one state will not actually be able to sign up for a site in the other state. They will just stay on the sites in their own state, but will now have players from both states at the tables. PocketFives.com also reports that WSOP.com-specific promotions will only be for WSOP.com players in Nevada. In general, though, all of the poker tables, cash games and tournaments alike, will be shared between the two states and the four current sites. The lone exception is fixed limit games, but that is expected to be temporary, as WSOP.com had taken them down to fix some technical problems.
The player pool sharing has also had a huge effect on Delaware. PokerScout reports that all three of the state’s online poker rooms have a seven day average of just seven cash game players, with a peak in the six days leading up to yesterday’s merge of just 34 players. On March 24th, the first day of the shared player pools, Delaware’s peak cash game player count was 313.
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