Earlier this month, WSOP and 888 Poker announced plans to combine their clients into a unified, three-state network.
Thanks to a pact known as the Multi-State Internet Gaming Association, operators in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware are now permitted to share liquidity across state lines. At the time of the announcement, interstate platforms were pending final approval and tentatively slated for a May 1 launch.
The date is tentative no more.
This evening, WSOP.com head of online poker Bill Rini confirmed that regulators in each state have given their final sign-offs. With the flip of a switch, WSOP NJ and WSOP Nevada player pools have combined on schedule, even a few hours earlier than expected.
Multistate poker has returned to the US for the first time since Black Friday.
What to expect after the changeover
NJ online poker players don’t need to do anything at all. They’ll be pushed a normal software update which will connect them to the multistate server via WSOP NJ. Once the update is complete, the lobby will be populated by players from all three states.
Those in Nevada and Delaware have a bit more work to do. Since the games will now run on servers based in NJ, players elsewhere need to download new software and create a new account to join. Those who preregistered are already set to join the multistate games.
Those who haven’t yet created a new account will need to do so before playing for real money. WSOP says it may take up to 72 hours for funds and account activity to transfer over from existing accounts.
Implications going forward
The primary implication will be an immediate increase in the number of players at the cash-game tables.
PokerScout tracks WSOP/888 traffic in two separate markets right now, as Nevada and Delaware platforms already share liquidity. That two-state network averages about 140 weekly players, with around 245 at peak. WSOP NJ is near the bottom of its market, but it still averages more than 100 players, peaking around 215.
By arithmetic, then, there should be about 250 average players, with peaks closer to 500 on a three-state network.
Of course, increases in poker liquidity facilitate even larger gains in liquidity. Expanded player pools allow operators to offer more games and larger guarantees, thereby tempting more players into the market. Combined traffic across the three-state network should easily match the sum of the separate networks — and likely surpass it in short order.
These same temptations apply at the state level, as well. A larger network may create more incentive for other states to participate.
Take Delaware as an example. With less than a million residents, the state isn’t large enough to support a ring-fenced online poker network of its own. There simply aren’t enough players to fill the tables and keep the games going. But add Nevada into the mix, and the tables are suddenly full. Delaware now generates a bit of tax revenue from players who might not otherwise participate.
That same logic may help drive the conversation forward in other states. That’s the hope, anyhow. Smaller states, in particular, that are considering online poker legislation may be nudged over the hump by the potential benefits of an interstate network.
Pennsylvania will likely join the MSIGA when it launches online poker, too, adding more fuel to the fire.