Online poker players from Nevada and Delaware could be facing off against each other in just a matter of weeks.
According to Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, the agreement between the two states that was signed last year to share player liquidity is almost ready to go, with Sandoval calling such a move “imminent.”
That word may be a little strong, as Sandoval said the agreement signed by him and Delaware Governor Jack Markell last February is about four to six weeks away from being implemented.
Still, it’s a welcome sign for players that have been long awaiting the start of a shared player pool, something that many believe is critical if online poker is to survive in smaller states.
According to Sandoval, “technical glitches” are to blame for delays in networking the two states, but Nevada gaming regulators now believe the system is just about ready to go. It was originally hoped that the interstate compact might be ready to go as early as last summer.
Once the agreement goes into effect, operators will be allowed to share traffic between sites in both states. This is likely to create winners on every level of the online poker economy.
First and foremost, players will benefit significantly from the changes. In particular, Delaware’s online poker community should see huge benefits, as the state has had trouble keeping active tables during off-peak hours, with only a couple dozen cash game players on the site even during busy periods.
Those players will now be joined by the hundreds that populate Nevada’s online poker landscape, and many in Delaware who might not be playing because of a lack of games could be brought back into the fold.
Nevada players will benefit too, if not as dramatically. Adding players from Delaware will keep additional games afloat and boost tournament prize pools, something that should once again have a positive impact on player retention and attracting new blood to the sites. All of this added activity will also mean more revenue for both states, which will be happy to line their coffers with the additional taxes they can collect from the busier tables.
But the biggest winner of all might be 888, which is the one company that stands to gain from the compact. 888 Holdings is the sole provider of online gambling software for Delaware, meaning they are the only company that could possibly operate in both states.
They’re also the company that provides the software for WSOP.com in Nevada, the only major site still running there. In the months to come, an 888-branded site and a Treasure Island site using 888 software are also expected to launch in the near future.
Networking these sites will likely make 888 even more of a de facto leader in the American online poker landscape. The company also provides software for the WSOP.com and 888poker sites in New Jersey, one of the two market leaders there (along with a Borgata/partypoker network). It’s unclear if New Jersey will enter into any player sharing agreements, though officials in the state say no such compacts are imminent.
While it’s hard to point out any losers in the player sharing arrangement, it’s likely that smaller poker sites in Nevada will find it even harder to compete once 888 has a multi-state network up and running. Right now, that only means the very small Real Gaming site that has only a handful of real money players at any given time, but it could also dissuade other operators from entering the market at a later date.