MGM CEO Betting on Online Poker Compact Between Nevada and New Jersey
The CEO of MGM Entertainment, Jim Murren, said this week that he believes it is likely that the states of Nevada and New Jersey, both of which have enacted legislation allowing for Internet-based wagering, will soon enter into an interstate online poker agreement, this according to Reuters.
Small market in Nevada motivates action
Nevada made history when it became the first state in the nation to regulate some form of online gambling, which it did back in 2011.
While the Nevada online wagering law permits only the playing of online poker, and only by those who are physically located in the Silver State when logging onto the real-money online poker rooms, the state’s governor, Brian Sandoval, is granted the power to enter into interstate poker compacts with other states who have also green-lighted Internet betting. Sandoval is himself a former chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission.
Running up to the launch of Nevada’s first online poker site, which happened this past April when Ultimate Poker threw open its virtual doors to Nevadans, the new law was touted as making the future brighter for Nevada and its concentration of gaming companies. Being that Nevada has a relatively small population – the state has fewer than 3 million residents – the ability to negotiate and enter into interstate poker deals was seen as a crucial element of the law, and one that will eventually permit those companies to considerably expand their player base.
“I think it’s likely that in 2014 we’ll see a compact between New Jersey and Nevada. We’ve really been focusing on Nevada’s ability to compact with other states, create more liquidity,” Murren told reporters this week after a conference call addressing the company’s second quarter earnings.
Nevada gaming regulators see a similar future
Though Internet gaming is not scheduled to go live in the state of New Jersey for a few months, the summer has been rife with chatter about the impending start of online betting in one of America’s most storied gambling states. With interest in the nascent New Jersey Internet gambling market proliferating far beyond its borders, it comes as little surprise that gambling regulators in Nevada are paying close attention to goings-on in the Garden State.
For his part, A.G. Burnett, who serves as head of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, shares Murren’s vision of a future in which players from New Jersey and from Nevada can play against one another in a real-money online poker game. Sites are expected to launch in New Jersey at the end of November, with the state’s Internet gambling law only having received the signature of the state’s governor, Republican Chris Christie, last February.
“Nevada is striving to do what it can in regards to compacts. We do not jump into the fire without having done a lot of cautious research and study into the particulars of such agreements, and that phase is nearing completion,” Burnett was quoted as saying.
MGM vision goes beyond New Jersey and Nevada
MGM, one of the nation’s most visible gaming companies, has a vision that extends far beyond New Jersey and Nevada, both states in which it presently has land-based casino interests.
“We have a big team that is preparing us on a state-by-state basis and on the states that we believe will be the most productive for us. And we’ve been working with the state of Nevada on their efforts to compact with other states. I think at least 40 of the 50 states are in some stage of debating this (online gambling) internally. The ones most visible are New Jersey, New York State, Illinois and California,” Murren remarked.
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