Growth is Good: Online Poker Players Offer Their Views on Interstate Compacts

February 7, 2022
Growth is Good: Online Poker Players Offer Their Views on Interstate Compacts

Many American online poker players have big hopes for 2022, including more states seeing legalization. States entering into interstate compacts should also be in the spotlight as well.

It’s no secret that shared liquidity would have a huge impact on the industry and USPoker took a deep look at the issue last week. This week, several players added their own thoughts on the issue and what this could mean to the industry.

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Huge potential for US online poker

The American online poker market has seen major revenue gains since the COVID pandemic. Online poker is currently legal in:

  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • Michigan
  • Delaware

West Virginia and Connecticut have also legalized, but have yet to launch. Currently, WSOP.com has the country’s only multi-state platform in Nevada, New Jersey, and with 888poker in Delaware. Players on other sites play in “ringed-in” environments, meaning they play others located within that state.

Darren Elias is working with partypoker US Network/BetMGM to be ready when interstate compacts are approved.

Altogether, legalized online poker states have a population of more than 41 million people. As noted by USPoker in last week’s analysis, that could potentially put the entire US player pool into the top 10 in the world.

Individual platforms like PokerStars, WSOP.com/888poker, and partypoker US Network (BetMGM/Borgata) Poker could see significant gains from interstate compacts.

Partypoker US/BetMGM ambassador and four-time World Poker Tour champion Darren Elias sees huge potential for the US market. He’s working with the platform to be ready once any interstate compacts are approved.

 “I think there is an enormous potential for US online poker,” he says. “Players are eager to get online and play again in safe, regulated markets, but we are still limited by ring-fenced legislation for now.

“As more states are approved and interstate compacts are eventually made, the player pool will grow rapidly. I’m working with BetMGM now to lay the framework and be ready for this expansion when it comes. I believe online poker will be a major market in the United States once again, and BetMGM will be leading the charge.”

Added games, promotions, and more

Michael Gagliano

Simply beyond larger prize and player pools, much more could be in the works for players with an expanded market. Longtime New Jersey grinder Michael Gagliano is also an ambassador for partypoker US and LearnWPT.

Gagliano has more than $2.3 million in live tournament winnings and is a regular in the Garden State online poker scene. Along with more liquidity, he believes interstate compacts would bring other nice rewards for players.

“With more players, sites can offer more variations in games and promotions,” he says. “I hope to see more mixed games like HORSE and more PLO variants.”

A more competitive environment could only benefit players and diversity site offerings, he argues.

GGPoker ambassador Daniel Negreanu also spoke with WPT.com in December about the game’s future in the US. He sees the online game continually growing in the coming years with current states serving as an example for others.

“The experiments are already happening in Vegas and New Jersey and stuff, so people take a look and if it seems to be viable and worthwhile, it will just happen that way – slowly progressing. I think people are better off not worrying about a federal law because it’s never going to happen – like ever.”

Powerball meets online poker

Isaac “KingBoss93” Vasquez is from Reading, Pennsylvania, and won the PokerStars PASCOOP Main Event in 2021 for $46,410. He makes his living grinding it out at Pennsylvania online poker sites.

Isaac "KingBoss92" Vasquez won the PokerStars PASCOOP Main Event on May 3 and spoke with USPoker about the big win and his poker life in PA.
Isaac Vasquez

Adding shared liquidity could benefit players by making prize pools and tournament schedules align in legalized markets, he says. Players would no longer need to hit the road to check out other series.

“I know guys that come out from Jersey or Michigan (to Pennsylvania) while the series are going on, simply because the guarantees are better,” he says. “An interconnected pool of players can solve that.”

Adding multiple states together also makes winning major events even more meaningful, Vasquez argues. No longer is a player a champion in simply one state, but has conquered a larger field in a bigger chunk of the country. 

“Maybe it’s not the same but I look at stuff like the Powerball and Mega Millions lottery being across states and don’t see why poker would be any different,” Vasquez says.

Game integrity would be key, he adds, with any expansion among states. Aligning regulations among won’t be a quick process, but will help with site security.

“I know regulations are easier to keep intact when it’s just within one state so I can only imagine what it takes across states,” he says. “It has to be reliable and safe for the players to play on.

“If we’re talking multiple states on a network or a site, making sure that it runs right and no compromises is key. Having one account where it connects to the site no matter what state you’re in for people that travel would be a great thing.”

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Security for the American market

New Jersey’s Dan Lupo

Dan Lupo may be a part-time player, but has found huge success in the New Jersey market. Lupo works as an architect by day and crushes online poker at night.

That has included numerous titles at PokerStars, three WSOP.com Online Circuit championship bracelets, and one WSOP online bracelet. He sees the addition of interstate compacts not just good for players, but helps ensure the survival of online sites in the currently fractured US market.

“Frankly, it’s a joke that we still don’t have something on the national level,” he says. “I’m sure the poker sites would agree with the players – the less individual markets they have to cater to, meaning each state individually, the better each site would be able to push marketing, managing games, player needs, staffing, et cetera.” 

Lupo notes that some new competition would also be nice. He believes expanded player and prize pools could bring even more players into the mix. That would only help fuel the growth in the market.

“A lot of players, myself included at times, get tired of playing against the same core group of players day to day,” he notes. “In the multi-table tournament world, the larger guaranteed prize pools attract a lot of recreational players and part-time regulars to come out and play on a more consistent basis.

“I think there’s a lot of potential when expansion happens, until that point I think players have been getting continually discouraged at how slow the process has been.”

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