Christie and Sandoval Talk Interstate Poker Compacts

Posted on September 10th, 2014 by Jon Pineda
NJ Governor Chris Christie player compacts

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is in talks with Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval about shared online gaming player pools. (Image: AP)

Interstate poker compacts could be as important as any other factor in the future and ongoing success of online gambling. After all, New Jersey online poker has been perhaps the healthiest regulated Internet poker market in the United States, but it still hasn’t performed as well as state officials had hoped.

While the Garden State has much larger raw player numbers than Nevada, the difference isn’t as large as you’d expect when looking at the relative populations of the two states. With that in mind, it’s only natural to wonder how much better both states would be doing if they could just combine their poker player pools.

As it turns out, such an idea might not be far-fetched. According to a comment by Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, he has spoken to Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval about the possibility of an Internet gaming pact between their two states. The comment was reported via a tweet by Howard Stutz of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and came after Christie attended a summit on the future of Atlantic City.

Pact Would Likely Result in Shared Poker Player Pools

In practical terms, the benefit of an online gambling pact between the two states would be to combine the player pools from poker sites in both states. Such a move would likely be similar to the compact between Nevada and Delaware that authorized sharing player liquidity on poker sites. While that agreement has yet to produce any tangible results, 888 is expected to connect the player pools on sites using their software in both states, either late this year or early in 2015.

New Jersey has yet to enter into any such partnerships, but they do have a similar agreement in place with Nevada already in regards to some land-based casino games. That arrangement started in August, when a series of progressive jackpot slots began pooling contributions for both states in order to build larger jackpots for players in Las Vegas and Atlantic City.

For poker room operators, the benefits of player pool sharing are tremendous. Unlike other games that can be played alone against the casino, poker requires other players to compete against. Without a large enough player base, a poker room can never get off the ground: if games can’t be constantly running throughout most or all of the day, new players may arrive to see a virtually empty room and not bother joining at all.

888, Ultimate Could Benefit From Interstate Poker

While there’s no reason to believe that New Jersey and Nevada are near any such agreement, there are certainly companies that would be in position to take advantage if it happened. Not surprisingly, 888 would once again be a big winner, as they might be able to extend their planned All American Poker Network to a third state. Meanwhile, Ultimate Poker also has viable sites in both New Jersey and Nevada, and other companies might be willing to expand to a second state in an attempt to build a player base.

Christie’s comments are of great interest to poker players, but other actions by the New Jersey governor related to gambling made much bigger headlines this week. Earlier, Christie issued a declaration that New Jersey’s casinos and racetracks could begin offering sports betting without fear of civil or criminal repercussions, despite the state having lost battles in federal court over their right to regulate the industry.

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