Governor Chris Christie established his liberal credentials, in advance of a possible White House run, by signing new gambling laws that permit online gambling in the Garden State. His expectations of an extra $300m a year in tax revenue might have provided some extra motivation.
The Borgata, the Tropicana, Trump Plaza, the Trump Taj Mahal, Bally’s and Caesars all got their act together in time to launch on day 1. The Golden Nugget will not be far behind, but system problems prevented it from making the big bang start date.
Behind the big name casinos, there are big name online operators, who have been working for over a year to get ready for US gambling. Nevada was the first state to regulate online poker, with two operators currently serving the market, Ultimate Poker and WSOP.com Nevada.
The Borgata has launched three online poker rooms, all powered by PartyPoker software, including a PartyPoker branded site. WSOP is owned by Caesars and has launched its New Jersey site together with 888poker, through a new network called the All American Poker Network (AAPN). The AAPN is planning to share liquidity across states as soon as laws allow.
The Golden Nugget will shortly pitch in using the Ongame poker client, also used by Betfair. Although the site briefly went live on Thursday, technical problems meant that the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement pulled its permit until the software could be proved compliant.
Both Nevada and New Jersey use technically complex geolocation systems to ensure that no player is allowed online unless they are physically within the borders of the state, This has led to many irritated customers being excluded even though they qualify to play.
Taxes in New Jersey have been set at 15% of gaming revenues, plus a mandatory contribution of 2.5% to support development. At those rates, it is going to be very difficult for more than one or two companies to make a profit.
The European regulatory experience has been that operators are going to lose money for sometime until the lower expected tax revenues force a rethink. With a population of less than 10 million, there simply aren’t enough people in New Jersey to sustain a high player base--countries like Spain, with a 60m population are finding that they need to look to international liquidity to counter an already declining market, just two years after introducing regulation.
The good news is that New Jersey is already in talks with other states about sharing player liquidity to make a viable online poker market. And of course, the publicity attracted to the newly legal poker should bring in more players, not just in Nevada and New Jersey, but across the country. Frustrated players not in a state with an officially regulated online poker room can still play at Rakeback.com recommended sites such as BlackChip Poker and Americas Cardroom.
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By Matt Marietta, Rakeback.com Executive Editor
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