Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada and Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware signed an agreement Tuesday that would allow poker players from both states to participate in a combined player pool -- potentially the first step in recreating a true American online poker market.
The legislation allows the two states, which currently offer limited potential player pools, the ability to create a larger marketplace and add to the player liquidity that online poker sites rely on for continued success.
"This multi-state Internet agreement is the first ever of its kind," Sandoval said during Tuesday's news conference. "I consider this a landmark intersection in the road of gaming history. ... [Nevada is] proud to have the first state as our first partner."
Markell stressed three key points to this agreement:
It authorizes online poker operators in Delaware and Nevada to open up their games to players in both states. Revenue will be distributed evenly based on the location of the player that generated the rake.
Players from Delaware will be subject to its state laws and regulations and players from Nevada will be subject to Nevada laws and regulations.
It has created a structure that makes it easy to add additional states.
Both governors said they want additional states to participate. New Jersey is the only state which offers legal online poker not included in this agreement.
Sandoval stated that he has had conversations with New Jersey officials.
"We hope additional states do participate," Markell said. "We all benefit if more states participate."
States that join the partnership will be able to select which games they will offer. Delaware currently offers casino games and online poker, while Nevada offers only online poker.
While the agreement has been signed, questions remain about what the actual providers and procedures will look like. Both Delaware and Nevada have three legalized online poker sites currently running, but there is no overlap. In Delaware, Delaware Park holds the biggest share of the market, followed by Dover Downs and Harrington and combined the trio only brought in $88,390.48 in revenue in January. In Nevada, WSOP.com leads the market over Ultimate Poker and the recently launched Real Gaming, but even with their larger potential player base, according to Howard Stutz of the Las Vegas Review Journal, are estimated to bring in only $200,000 to $500,000 in revenue per month.
"We are very pleased with agreement between Delaware and Nevada," said Seth Palansky, vice president of corporate communications for Caesars Interactive Entertainment. "It's another case of forward thinking and an endorsement of the importance of pooled liquidity especially for lesser populated States. As Nevada set the blueprint for regulation, they now are setting the blueprint for inter-state collaboration."
At the time of the signing, Palansky was unaware of the next steps for each of the currently licensed and regulated online sites in each state.
"It is terrific progress and hopefully can serve as a model for future Internet poker partnerships as more states regulate the industry," said John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance.
Both governors reiterated that there should be no further regulations or necessary legislation and that the agreement has the "green light" once the technology is in place.