The week dawns with some good news for New Jersey online poker players. Interstate poker is just a couple weeks away.
In a press release this morning, WSOP.com indicates that its finished product is all but approved. If the last details fall into place as expected, interstate platforms should roll out on May 1.
That timeline would be particularly good news for NJ players who aren’t planning a summer trip to Las Vegas:
Once the process is complete, New Jersey WSOP.com players will be able to compete for official WSOP gold bracelets from their home state for the very first time.
The network-level expansion unites the family of WSOP / 888 Poker sites operating in New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware. According to the release, shared liquidity will create “larger prize pools, better game selection, wider time zone coverage and expanded tournament offerings.”
For the first time since 2011, players from all three states will soon be sitting side by side at the virtual tables.
WSOP/888 ready for NJ liquidity sharing
The process began more than six months ago when NJ joined the Multi-State Internet Gaming Alliance. The organization, founded by Nevada and Delaware, establishes a framework for liquidity sharing between member states. With the addition of NJ, membership now stands at three.
Operators and regulators have worked closely to facilitate network expansion under the MSIGA. WSOP Head of Online Poker Bill Rini gushed over the efforts:
This has been a huge collaborative effort from all involved and it is important to thank the elected leadership and regulatory authorities in Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey for their dedication and diligence to help move online poker forward.
Everyone has had the end user in mind throughout this process, and as a result, we believe the United States for the first time in a regulated environment, will have a large-scale multi-state offering that will propel the industry forward as soon as next month.
As Rini said, the US has never had its own regulated, multistate poker network. Almost exactly seven years ago, federal officers dismantled online gambling amid the events of Black Friday. States are slowly rebuilding their industries, but players have been waiting since 2011 for a true interstate network to take shape.
Yaniv Sherman, who oversees commercial development for 888, echoed Rini’s thoughts about the process:
Pooling poker players from three states will be a significant regulatory step in the US and is very exciting for our players and partners. The guidance and coordination provided by the regulators in the three states has been instrumental to the potential success of shared liquidity.
Gaming regulators from all three states also provided quotes in support of interstate poker.
What does it mean for online poker players?
Although the three states will share one network, they will not share software platforms. Regulatory differences necessitate separate terms of service in each.
With the details finalized, we now have a good picture of how the changes will affect players in each state.
Apart from the uptick in liquidity, New Jersey players will barely notice the transition. Existing WSOP.com NJ and 888 Poker customers won’t need to do anything beyond a standard software update.
With a press of a button, cash game lobbies will suddenly fill with players from all three states. Combined traffic figures to exceed the sum of the individual markets before too long, since action creates action in poker. The number of players at NJ tables could triple under an optimistic projection.
But the WSOP brand isn’t synonymous with cash games; it’s about gold bracelets. And thanks to the timing of the announcement, speculation turned to confirmation today.
Players in NJ will be able to compete in four online bracelet events this year.
- June 3 at 3:30 p.m.: Event No. 10: $365 No-limit Hold’em
- June 22 at 3:30 p.m.: Event No. 47: $565 Pot-limit Omaha 6-Handed
- June 29 at 3:30 p.m.: Event No. 61: $1,000 No-limit Hold’em
- June 30 at 3:30 p.m.: Event No. 63: $3,200 High Roller
The Division of Gaming Enforcement regulates New Jersey online poker.
On May 1, the current WSOP Nevada platform will become inoperative, and a new client will be pushed for download.
First the bad news. The registration process begins entirely anew. Players will need to create a new account and register a new screen name — one that is not already registered in the NJ system. In many (but not all) cases, they’ll be able to use their current screen name.
The good news is that WSOP will preserve all existing funds, tournament tickets and loyalty points. And since players will be “new” once again, they’ll be eligible for the same perks awarded to all first-time players.
WSOP will soon open the process, which can take 72 hours, for those looking to get a head start. Users who make use of the pre-registration will have their accounts prepped and ready to go at launch. There’s a small overlap in screen names between Nevada and NJ, but Rini expects nearly everyone to have access to their current handle.
The state’s Gaming Control Board regulates Nevada online poker.
This morning, the three Delaware poker sites broke the news with the first email blasts to their customers. Like WSOP.com, they’re skins of 888 Poker, sharing software but operating under their own branding:
- Delaware Park
- Dover Downs
- Harrington Raceway
Customers of those three sites will need to follow a process similar to Nevada’s, creating new accounts on NJ-hosted platforms. It’ll be worth the hassle, as Delaware players stand to see unique benefits from the expanded market.
Although the state has been pooled with Nevada for a couple years, geography and time-zone parity make NJ a better partner. Traffic going forward should both peak harder and level off more slowly than it does now. It’s important to note, though, that online bracelet events are exclusive to WSOP.com, so they won’t be available to Delaware players.
The state lottery regulates Delaware online poker.
The path to an interstate network
In the time since Black Friday, these three states have managed to rebuild their online poker industries from the ashes. Pennsylvania will soon become the fourth, having just passed its new law last year.
Although online poker can apparently survive in a ring-fenced market, it certainly can’t thrive. In 2015, Delaware and Nevada entered into the first liquidity-sharing agreement, creating the MSIGA to facilitate interstate play. Rini said the “complimentary regulatory environments” of the two states made the partnership fairly straightforward.
New Jersey’s addition in 2017 provided a welcomed complication. Although the potential benefits were substantial, so were the issues that needed to be hammered out.
“Every time you add another person to any sort of network, it increases the communication complexity substantially,” Rini told PlayNJ. Now there were three regulatory bodies involved in the conversation, each with different requirements.
NJ regulations are notoriously inflexible, too, including a stipulation that gaming equipment must be physically located in the state. According to Rini, the stakeholders met at the DGE’s offices late last year, where WSOP and 888 developed a plan that would comply with each state’s requirements.
With the matter now in the hands of regulators, Rini seems confident about the May 1 projection. “They’ve been very good about communicating with us about what they’ve been finding,” he said. “At this point, we’re not aware of any show-stoppers, which is a good sign.”
The final testing and approval are all that remain.