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Nevada-New Jersey Partnership For Online Poker Seems Like A Sure Bet

Officials In Both States Are Eying Such A Compact


It appears increasingly likely that online poker players in both Nevada and New Jersey won’t have to wait too long before a deal is brokered between the two jurisdictions in order to create even larger player pools for cash games and tournaments.

It would be a “wonder collaboration,” Nevada lawmaker William Horne told Card Player. Horne was the man leading the way when the Silver State legalized online poker in 2011.

“There’s a desire in both jurisdictions to get something done,” Horne added.

Nevada legalized web poker a couple of summers ago, but at a later date ironed out the language to explicitly allow for deals with other states. New Jersey’s final online gambling bill gives officials similar authority. New Jersey’s governor signed the legislation in February.

“Combining our markets would be a good idea,” said Ray Lesniak, the New Jersey lawmaker who was the primary sponsor for the Garden State’s bill. “I think we could make it work.”

Lesniak added that doing so could allow both states to “dominate the entire market.” Efforts have been made by some on Capitol Hill to pass a nationwide online poker measure in order to make the system uniform, but such proposals have always failed without much hope. States have thus taken the initiative, which makes a patchwork for online poker likely.

Everyone harps on the concept of “liquidity” for the online gambling industry.

A Nevada-New Jersey partnership also seems obvious because both license a lot of the same gaming firms. Caesars and MGM are two of the big ones with interests in both places.

Such a deal could very well come sometime next year, according to MGM’s CEO Jim Murren. Reuters reported that he said in a recent earnings call that it’s “likely that in 2014 we’ll see a compact between New Jersey and Nevada.” The Nevada Gaming Control Board told Retuers that research into how such a deal would work is “nearing completion.”

“I wouldn’t anticipate it being too difficult because both states have a strong track record with gaming regulation,” Horne said. “It shouldn’t take too long.”

Nevada already has one real-money site up and running. Ultimate Poker, an offshoot of Station Casinos, launched in April. Caesars, owner of the WSOP plans to debut its product sometime this summer. New Jersey said it will see at least one operator to the market in November. So far, 37 firms have applied to be involved with the Garden State’s industry.

Nevada’s population is about 2.75 million, while New Jersey has about 8.86 million.

While it comes as little surprise that the two states with long gambling histories were two of the first to legalization, the real prize in the industry’s mind is a state like California, home to 38 million. Some legislators there are trying to authorize such activity, but are having trouble finding consensus among tribal groups who don’t want to be cut out. A source close to California’s efforts told Card Player that the state could eventually be interested in a compact with another state. Unlike California, Nevada and New Jersey are dominated by commercial operators.