Regulators have given their preliminary approval for a platform that would allow internet gaming operators in Nevadaand Delawareto share poker players on a single network, likely increasing liquidity in those states.
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The proposed system would be created by 888 Holdings and link Caesars Interactive Entertainment’s WSOP.comwith the planned online poker room at 888’s partner casino, Treasure Island.
888 attorneys Mark Clayton and Yehoshua Gurtler said that multiple other casinos could add their poker rooms to the network as well. “For Nevada, a network provides more gaming taxes due to greater product attractiveness and player participation,” said Gurtler.
Ultimate Poker, WSOP.com, and the recently launched Real Gaming are all competing against each other for a slice of the Nevada pie. The web of business alliances in the regulated US iGaming industry can be confusing. In the Silver State, for example, WSOP.com is powered by 888’s software, yet in New Jersey, the two are competitors. In Delaware, however, 888 was chosen to provide software to all three online gaming sites.
888 has also created the All American Poker Network, which will be home to the forthcoming Treasure Island site, and will likely be integrally involved in all three states that have so far legalized online gaming.
The technology linking Nevada and Delaware would distribute profits to operators depending on which site a player originated from.
“Everyone here has been working hard to make the agreement with Delaware a reality,” said Gaming Control Board Chairman AG Burnett. The panel voted unanimously in favor of the proposed platform and the Nevada Gaming Commission will make its final decision on July 24.
In February, Delaware Governor Jack Markell and Governor Brian Sandoval (pictured) of Nevada signed an agreement to share player pools with the hopes of attracting other states as well. “We are standing in a moment of history – a landmark intersection in the road of the gaming industry. We want to pioneer the new digital space together,” said Sandoval in a press conference at the time.
With a population of less than one million, interstate compacts are seen as crucial to sustaining the life of Delaware’s fledgling online poker industry. The necessity of such an agreement is already becoming clear; in May, poker revenues dropped 22% for a total of $57,470 for the state’s iGaming operators.
Nevada, with a population of 2.7 million, has a larger potential player base and posted revenues of $862,000 in May, an 8.8% increase from April. Even so, that spike could be attributed to the increase in traffic from the World Series of Poker and many believe that networking with other states will be essential to creating a self-sustaining online poker market in the long-run. In the industry’s first year of operation, poker has averaged around $921,000 per month, suffering a 14.5% decline from March to April.
Online gaming revenue hasn’t yet reached the levels predicted by government officials like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (pictured) but industry experts believe that there is time to grow. “Many will argue that we are only in the early innings of regulated online poker in the US and problems surrounding payment processing and geo-location have negatively impacted results,” said Eilers Research analyst Adam Krejcik.
“Looking forward, we believe states considering adopting real money online poker should have cautious expectations and believe it’s important to not lose sight of the bigger issue, which is to grow overall gaming revenues,” he added.
New Jersey has also showed interest in joining interstate compacts, but has so far not reached an agreement with any other jurisdictions.