New Jersey has more player traffic than Nevada and Delaware combined, which is why many believe the Garden State opening its rooms to the two other states with legalized iGambling is critical for the future of online poker. However, to date, New Jersey has refused to enter into any such agreements, causing frustration to Internet poker players continually finding insufficient traffic.
But a lifeline was cast this week following the news that the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) approved a deal between Caesars Interactive Entertainment (CIE) and Scientific Games to host Delaware’s online lottery gaming platform from its Atlantic City data center. Though the lottery will only be available to residents in the First State, the contract and subsequent authorization could hint that regulators aren’t entirely opposed to combining player pools.
“This arrangement exemplifies a great collaborative effort between the Delaware Lottery, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, Scientific Games, and Caesars Interactive Entertainment,” David Rebuck, DGE director said in a statement.
Traffic Report: Crawling
Per the latest data from PokerScout, New Jersey averages 290 cash game players over the most recent seven-day period, a far cry from PokerStars’ 16,000 occupied seats. Welcoming the Nevada/Delaware crop wouldn’t magically make the theoretical compact a worldwide force, but it would increase numbers by a couple hundred additional players.
Internet poker has struggled in the United States since Nevada first legalized it back in 2013. Financial projections were drastically blown out of proportion, several networks eventually closed, and things became so dire last February that Nevada stopped releasing revenue earnings.
“For online poker to truly thrive in the United States, online poker operators will need to ensure that they have enough players to create a good experience for the consumer and to make the operation of the room profitable,” the Interactive Gaming Council wrote in late 2013.
“States have learned their lesson about the value of increased liquidity from lottery agreements, which have been enormously successful in leveraging shared populations to create bigger prizes that have led to an increase in the number of players participating and have increased the tax revenue generated.”
With New Jersey at least open to the debate in joining intrastate compacts, iPoker enthusiasts in the United States are rightly more optimistic. Considering that Jersey is already the largest market in America and that its dominance will likely only increase once PokerStars finally receives its license along with the Resorts Casino, the state’s interest in stripping borders is good news for the overall health of the industry.
“We are happy to do our part assisting regulators in New Jersey and Delaware and appreciate their progressive and innovative work to help continue to grow and push the regulated online gaming market forward in the United States,” Marco Ceccarelli, senior vice president for CIE said of the Delaware/New Jersey deal.
Though a renewed enthusiasm for Internet poker has emerged, the process of joining online card rooms together isn’t expected to come anytime soon, especially considering New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on the 2016 campaign trail. The two-term governor has largely abandoned Trenton and has even delayed signing a legislation package to benefit Atlantic City for over two months, a series of rescue bills that he called for last spring.