How Likely Is It For New Jersey, UK To Share Online Poker Player Pools?

July 11, 2016
How Likely Is It For New Jersey, UK To Share Online Poker Player Pools?

New Jersey and the United Kingdom have had preliminary discussions about sharing liquidity for online poker, according to a recent report.

But just how likely is that scenario? What would it look like? And how quickly could it happen?

First, the UK-NJ online poker news

Global Gaming Business reported on Sunday that an “agreement in principle” regarding player pooling was reached between the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement and the UK Gambling Commission.

In the wake of that, GGB reported that the NJDGE “sent letters to the iGaming platforms that operate both in that state and the United Kingdom asking them to recommend how a system sharing liquidity between the two jurisdictions would work.”

That would, of course, be major news should it come to fruition. But there are a lot of unanswered questions about the logistics of it.

Who would be involved in sharing NJ-UK liquidity?

For online poker, there are obviously several platforms that offer online poker both in New Jersey and internationally:

PokerStars, who leads the online poker market internationally and in the UK by a wide margin, would be the big winner by gaining access to a shared NJ-UK market.

But is that really what such an agreement would provide?

What would ‘player pooling’ actually look like?

There remains some question about whether this would be full liquidity sharing across the two jurisdictions.

Regulations in NJ say that online gambling must take place on servers located in Atlantic City. More from OPR:

It’s long been unclear how much flexibility there is in the server requirement. But if there’s little-to-no flexibility, then true player pooling with the U.K. wouldn’t be possible.

What would be possible: A system where players from the U.K. were able to sign up and play at New Jersey online poker sites.

Of course, so far, we have very little information about what the plans are on this front, whether its UK access to the NJ market or something more. But it’s certainly an open question.

How quickly would liquidity sharing happen, if at all?

The short answer? Not very quickly.

NJDGE Director David Rebuck told GGB:

“We’d still have to figure out lots of issues: specific regulations, how the tax rate from each jurisdiction would be applied, player ID and geolocation issues, and other things we probably haven’t even considered yet. But you have to start somewhere.”

That leads to the idea that discussions, so far, are indeed very preliminary in nature. Answering any of the issues posed by Rebuck are fairly major ones to work out across borders.

Add in the fact that the operators listed above have until the first of August to respond to the NJDGE’s request for recommendations, and we’re likely quite a ways from moving forward in a meaningful way.

Any kind of arrangement being implemented would seem to be a reach in 2016, even if things go quickly and smoothly. A deal being inked sometime in 2017 would seem far more likely.

If it’s full player pooling, it could be a gamechanger

The hope for online poker proponents in the U.S. is quite simple: that NJ and the UK are considering full sharing of liquidity.

Obviously, that would give NJ online poker players access to a much bigger pool of cash-game players and would increase the tournament prize pools they have access to.

The ceiling for US online poker has been stunted by the ring-fenced nature of the markets, although two small states — Nevada and Delaware — share player pools.

But full player pooling could raise both the floor and the ceiling for online poker in New Jersey. And it could make other states with or without online poker and gambling take notice.

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