Online poker fans in New Jersey will soon be able to play against people in Nevada and Delaware, expanding a growing portion of the state's gambling industry.
Players in Nevada and Delaware have been able to play against each other since 2015, but New Jersey is now set to join once regulators in the states approve an operator and game software, Republican Gov. Chris Christie announced Friday.
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Christie said the pact will allow the states to connect other games, as well, but Nevada currently only offers poker. Vernon Kirk, director of Delaware's Lottery, said that the state will focus on poker first but that expanding to other games, like progressive slot jackpots, "is the direction we will be going in once we get more organized."
The pact will likely benefit Caesars Entertainment, whose WSOP.com site is the only one set up in all three states.
A.G. Burnett, chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, said the other online operators in New Jersey could apply in Nevada, as well. He said the agreement should boost the number of players at the online tables.
"It's something online poker players have asked for and wanted," Burnett said.
Kirk said that allowing players in Delaware to face off against those in Nevada has led to only modest increases in revenue and the state focused on making sure the platform worked.
"I think we're past that now and we hope when we add New Jersey — that's a considerable number more potential customers — it should be able to offer our players a lot more flexibility in the stakes that they play or the times that they play," Kirk said. "The types of games that they play, all those things contribute to more customers, but it doesn't increase the size of your state's population, so we have to be realistic."
New Jersey launched internet gambling in 2013.
Figures released Thursday by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement showed Atlantic City's seven casinos and online gambling outlets won $235.8 million in September, an increase of 4.1 percent compared with September 2016. That included $20.4 million last month from online gambling, up 25 percent over last year.