New Jersey online poker has seen declining revenues in recent months, leading many players and analysts to speculate on how the state could turn that trend around.
One of the easiest ways might be to share player pools with other states like Nevada and Delaware, or even other nations where online gambling is regulated and legal.
But according to a new report, players in the Garden State shouldn’t expect this to happen anytime soon.
New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) director David Rebuck told the Associated Press that there were no “imminent” deals in the works to sign compacts with other jurisdictions that would allow poker players to play against each other.
While Rebuck said that there had been talks with both Nevada and the United Kingdom about such a possibility, there’s no reason for players to expect player pool sharing in the immediate future.
Increasing Player Pools a 2015 Goal
But that doesn’t mean it won’t be happening at all. Rebuck did say that increasing the player pool is one of the major goals for the New Jersey online poker industry in 2015, which could mean there’s hope for progress on player liquidity sharing over the next year.
The idea of bringing international jurisdictions in as potential partners was first floated publically by State Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-Union County) in September, when he seemed to believe it could happen by the end of this year.
Such a move would provide numerous benefits for New Jersey’s Internet poker sites. A lack of players can dissuade new poker fans from joining a site, as there may be no games for them to play in (or at least none at stakes they’re interested in playing), especially during off-peak hours.
With players from other states and nations also participating on the same sites, it increases the number of games available for everyone, which in turn gives other potential players more reasons to join or reload their accounts after losing an initial deposit.
Tournament play could also be heavily impacted by increased player liquidity. More players to draw on means bigger guarantees, which in turn attracts more players who want a shot at the larger prizes. In other words, by combining multiple smaller player bases, you can create poker rooms that are larger than the sums of their parts.
PokerStars Approval Not Expected Until 2015
Rebuck also discussed the ongoing saga of PokerStars’ attempt to gain a license in the state. While it was once hoped that Amaya Gaming would be able to secure a license and be up and running sometime before the end of year, more recent reports have suggested that this wouldn’t happen, and Lesniak even blamed political posturing by Governor Chris Christie for the delay.
Rebuck didn’t speak to the reasons for the delay, but did confirm that the PokerStars application was still under review, and that an approval wouldn’t come until early 2015 at the earliest.
So far, online gambling has been a mixed bag for New Jersey. While the $111 million the state’s casinos have made since the sites went live late last year has helped casinos post increases in total revenue in some months, that number is still way short of the $1 billion some New Jersey officials claimed could be brought in over the first year, and has even fallen well short of the more realistic targets of some analysts.