Nevada Online Poker Market Will Need Help from Other States
In a recent opinion piece in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, writer Howard Stutz expounded upon a fact that has been obvious to gambling and online poker industry experts since the state became the first in the nation to pass online poker regulation back in 2011 – Nevada is going to need to enter into interstate poker compacts in order to expand the customer base for its online poker web sites.
State is very small, population-wise
Nevada, a sparsely-populated state that ranks toward the bottom of the nation in terms of population size (it sits at number thirty-five), simply does not have the population base to support a thriving online poker market limited only to the state’s borders, even if a portion of the millions of visitors who come to Las Vegas each year decide to play a few hands of poker over the Internet.
Nevada, with an estimated population of fewer than 2.8 million residents, will need to partner with other states if its market is to grow and thrive, says Stutz. Should the state team up with other states that have also cleared the way for Internet-based gambling (so far just Delaware and New Jersey have followed Nevada’s lead), the potential for a much larger pool of players exists.
With last Thursday’s launch of Nevada’s second real-money online poker site, the World Series of Poker room operated by Caesars Entertainment, there are now two operational regulated poker sites in the state. The first to go live, Ultimate Poker, which is owned by Station Casinos, the operator of a number of land-based locals casinos in Nevada, did so in late April of this year.
According to the Review-Journal, that total could jump to five before 2013 is out, with online poker sites from South Point, 888, and Treasure Island all potentially looking to set up shop prior to the year’s end.
Law permits such compacts
Earlier this year, Nevada lawmakers passed legislation to allow the state’s Republican Governor, Brian Sandoval, to negotiate such deals with other states. Sandoval, who once served as the chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission, says he is already in talks to create such agreements.
Lawmakers and industry pundits aren’t the only ones calling for interstate compacts; so too are online poker operators.
On last Monday’s conference call to publicize the launch date for the WSOP.com real-money poker site, Mitch Garber, the CEO of Caesars Interactive Entertainment, spoke to the need to expand the player pool.
“We’re very big supporters of shared liquidity. Nevada will have a healthy business on its own. I think it’s in everybody’s interest at the end of the day that there be compacts among states and that there be shared liquidity,” Garber told reporters listening in on the call.
Broadening scope of online offerings to include casino games will also boost market
And while talk of interstate poker deals has been at the forefront as Nevada looks to best capitalize on the fledgling United States online gambling market, there is also speculation that the state might soon look to further diversify its iGaming choices by passing a law that would also permit residents to play online versions of classic casino games like blackjack and roulette.
In Delaware and New Jersey, iGaming laws are broader in scope to allow a comprehensive suite of betting options. Though games have yet to be launched in either state – that is predicted to happen later on this fall – certainly both markets will be closely watched when the sites are up and running.
888 could be a company to watch as markets take shape
The online gaming market in Delaware could prove to be of particular interest, as in that state the lottery, which is tasked with overseeing the marketplace, has enlisted 888 as a service provider. Being that 888 is one of the largest and most proven online gambling brands in the world, offering a huge selection of games, the company could turn out to be a model as it hosts not only regulated online poker games, but casino games as well.
The company has a presence in all three states where some form of online betting has been regulated. In New Jersey, 888 has entered into an iGaming partnership with Caesars.
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