Earlier this month, the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) tentatively approved the plan for an online poker network that would combine the player pools of competing poker rooms. Late last week, the NGCB gave it the official green light.
The plan was proposed by 888 Holdings, which would supply the software for the network. The idea is to aid both the sustainability and growth of Nevada internet poker rooms while looking ahead to an eventual nationwide poker network. Initially, there will be two rooms on the network: Caesars Interactive Entertainment operated WSOP.com, which is currently the largest online poker room in the state, and an offering from the Treasure Island casino. WSOP.com already uses 888’s poker software and Treasure Island will use it, as well, so the integration of the two into the network should be easy. A third room using the 888 platform may also be added.
Nevada ranks in the bottom half of the states in terms of population with about 2.8 million residents and has had a tough time building traffic to its online poker rooms. WSOP.com has a seven day average of just 110 cash game players, according to PokerScout.com, while Ultimate Poker has only 60 players. RealGaming, the South Point Casino’s online poker product, doesn’t register in PokerScout’s rankings. By allowing competitors to combine forces, traffic will naturally be larger for each room. In the short-term, this is obviously a good thing, but in the long-term it could be even better, as the more attractive a poker room looks to prospective players, the more likely they are to signup, further strengthening the poker rooms and the network.
Further out, this may serve as a template for the upcoming inter-state online poker network between Nevada and Delaware. In February, the governors of both states signed the “Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement,” which would allow players from either state to cross virtual borders and play on poker rooms based in the other. The possibility then exists for an even larger network to be formed by poker rooms from multiple states. 888 already supplies the software for Delaware’s tiny poker rooms and would do the same for the overall network if and when it launches.
In March 2013, 888 and Avenue Capital Group created the All American Poker Network (AAPN), the first poker network formed in the new regulated online poker regime in the U.S. It hasn’t been much of a network yet, though, as there is only one room on it, 888poker.com, and that room is in New Jersey. Treasure Island’s internet poker room in Nevada was supposed to be the first, but it has not launched yet. It appears that Nevada’s inter-operator online poker room will be AAPN, as will be an eventually interstate online poker network using 888’s platform.