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Interstate Compact Between Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey to Begin May 1

Earl Burton, Apr 17, 2018 02:22 UTC

After a great deal of discussion over the issue, the three states that currently offer online poker to their citizens – Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey – will open their interstate compact beginning on May 1. Eligible for operation since October 2017, it will be the first time since “Black Friday” that multiple states will play poker against each other in a regulated atmosphere in the States of America.

In an announcement yesterday, Caesars Interactive Entertainment announced that its two brands – WSOP.com and 888Poker.com – will be activated on that date, with the players pooling from that point forward (players in the three states will have to download new software to play on the compacted websites). The goal, as it is with any business endeavor, is to increase the player pool, the prize pools generated by tournaments and to make the games more popular to the customers. Everyone involved in the move seems to have been waiting for this occurrence for some time.

“This has been a huge collaborative effort from all involved and it is important to thank the elected leadership and regulatory authorities in Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey for their dedication and diligence to help move online poker forward,” Bill Rini, the Head of Online Poker for WSOP.com, stated. “Everyone has had the end user in mind throughout the process and, as a result, we believe the United States, for the first time in a regulated environment, will have a large scale multi-state offering that will propel the industry forward.”

The Director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, David Rebuck, also seemed pleased about pooling the players. “This will raise jackpots and provide even greater opportunities for play,” Rebuck said. “It also paves the way for additional states to join and grow the regulated, legal online poker market.”

Rebuck’s contemporaries echoed his sentiments. “We are please to be part of this collaborative effort between regulators, operators, and the platform manufacturer to achieve the common goal of providing a sound gaming experience for patrons across multiple jurisdictions while still meeting our individual jurisdictional requirements,” Nevada Gaming Control Board chairwoman Becky Harris said during the announcement. Vernon Kirk, the Director of the Delaware Lottery, said that it was “an exciting opportunity to enhance (the players’) experience.”

There are a few drawbacks to the new compact. At this time, only WSOP.com and 888Poker will be allowed to take part in the compact because, by the compact’s regulations, a potential licensee must be licensed in all three states before they can enter the compact. Both of those sites are licensed in all three states through 888 Holdings International, which provides the software for both sites. For those who enjoy the Borgata/partypoker offering or the Resorts/PokerStars partnership in New Jersey, they will not be compacted because those sites have not been licensed in Delaware or Nevada.

Additionally, the compact will only extend to online poker. While both Delaware and New Jersey offer full casino gaming, Nevada is an online poker only market. This was one of the major holdups when it came to compacting operations between the three states. May is also excellent timing for the compact to go live as the upcoming 2018 World Series of Poker will be starting at the end of the month, with players being eligible to win seats to its $10,000 Championship Event and take part in other WSOP related events.  

There will be some questions about the compact once Pennsylvania’s system come online later in 2018. The fourth state to pass online gaming regulations, Pennsylvania is currently offering licenses to the state’s casino owners for the gaming licenses that they have available (poker, casino table games and slots – 12 each or 36 total) and is expected to launch their intra-state offerings in the fourth quarter 2018. Once they come online (and if their legislature allows for it to happen), would Pennsylvania (which has the population of Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey combined) be asked to join the nationwide compact? Or would Pennsylvania even be interested in joining that group?

It has been a long road to get to this point where several states joined forces to provide online gaming. All three states started out in 2013, but it wasn’t until 2015 that Delaware and Nevada entered a compact to share player liquidity. New Jersey, with a bursting casino gaming wing of its online industry and looking to shore up its underperforming poker wing, joined the twosome in October of last year but, until now, there wasn’t any action regarding activation of that compact.

At stake for the trio of states is a revenue that could expand tremendously after the compact between them goes live. In New Jersey, online poker drew in $24.3 million in 2017, not even 10% of what overall revenues were in the state ($245.6 million). Delaware’s revenues for the year were only $231,000 and Nevada, because of their regulations, does not release their online poker industry revenues (due to not enough operators being active to require release of the numbers) but is assumed to be approximately $1 million per month ($12 million). Once the new arrangement with WSOP.com and 888Poker going live in the three states in May, it will be interesting to see if there is a sustained increase in play and revenues for the triumvirate of states.

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After a great deal of discussion over the issue, the three states that currently offer online poker to their citizens – Delaware,