[toc]State Sen. Raymond Lesniak was instrumental in bringing legal online gaming to New Jersey in 2011. Since then, Lesniak has been a champion of the gaming industry, introducing legislation and fighting to support online gaming and the casino industry in the Garden State.
Lesniak’s latest legislative foray into gambling could be a game-changer. The senator is trying to facilitate an international online agreement between New Jersey and the United Kingdom.
Stay tuned for more details…
Lesniak plans to introduce a bill that would, among other things, eliminate the requirement that online gaming operators servicing the New Jersey market house their servers within the borders of Atlantic City.
That change would pave the way for players in other regulated markets, from Nevada to France, to place bets on New Jersey’s online gaming sites. They could also share liquidity with the state’s online poker rooms.
“I’ve changed my mission from making New Jersey the Silicon Valley of Internet gaming to the Mecca of Internet gaming,” Lesniak told the Associated Press. “Online gaming has helped Atlantic City to revive its casino sector with a success that we can expand in ways that will generate more revenue, create jobs and fuel technological innovation in gaming.”
Server issue a key sticking point
New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement Director David Rebuck supported legislative change in a recent interview with Global Gaming Business.
During the interview the DGE director sounded pessimistic New Jersey could enter into an international online gambling compact with the United Kingdom, unless there was a change to New Jersey’s gaming law.
According to Rebuck, the stipulation that requires online gaming servers to be located within Atlantic City is a sticking point. He also said it’s the reason otherwise fruitful talks with the UK broke down earlier this year.
“Our law is very restricted in that the gaming servers, the actual gaming servers that allow for the outcome of the game to be determined, have to be in Atlantic City,” Rebuck said in the interview. “And that’s just not a business model that they were willing to adopt.”
A possible jolt for online poker
The biggest beneficiary of an international liquidity sharing agreement would be online poker.
Population puts a hard cap on the number of online gamblers in any market. When it comes to online poker, there is a second factor: liquidity. Online poker needs players to thrive. Liquidity begets liquidity — the more players a site has, the more it will attract.
Across the globe, regulated markets average 50 to 100 cash-game players per million residents. The upper end generally occurs in large population pools or regions with a strong poker history.
Despite being a hotbed of poker, New Jersey is significantly underperforming on this front. The state has nine million residents and averages about 300 cash game players. That is far below the 450 to 900 players it should statistically possess.
If an international agreement came to fruition, New Jersey online poker sites would see a surge of players. They would go from measuring in-state traffic by the dozens to calculating it in the hundreds.
First, it would bring New Jersey’s dormant players out of hibernation.
In the early days of online poker, revenue and players were nearly double what they are today. It’s a clear indication there are more poker players in New Jersey than traffic at the state’s legal sites suggests.
Instead of 33 cash players per million residents, New Jersey sites would likely land toward the top end of 100 cash game players per million residents.
A home for wayward players
Second, it would attract aspiring players to New Jersey.
Hundreds of US poker players left the country to continue playing online. It’s safe to say even more would move to the Garden State if they could play in international player pools.
They would also have access to plenty of live poker in Atlantic City or nearby Pennsylvania.
If Lesniak can shepherd his proposed legislation across the finish line, and New Jersey manages to join an international player pool, it would conservatively boost the number of online poker players in the Garden State by a factor of three, and perhaps as much as five.