Internet Vikings: Poker - the importance of pooling your resources

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Gaming America sits down with Internet Vikings Head of US Elena Kvakova to discuss interstate gaming partnerships.

Within a highly restricted market, iGaming in the US is most likely to face explosive changes and developments to keep up with the evolving needs of players – and changes – across worldwide markets. However, with state-to-state regulations being so diverse, how will this impact each state’s operations and ability to grow?

Player pooling  to raise the stakes

When we consider what player pooling can do for the online poker industry, it has all the benefits – more players, bigger bets, healthier games. Most smaller states do not even have online poker rooms, because operating costs do not justify their small demand. However, if several small states come together – they form a greater pool of players and the game is on.

The significance of player pooling

Online poker is the game most impacted by a lack of players, which means operators can struggle to provide it.

"New Jersey, Nevada, Michigan and Delaware have come together to form a partnership and agreed upon specific terms concerning an MSIGA that works for each state. This has already seen a great increase in poker mobility"

The lack of players results in an unfavorable variety in stake levels and gameplay options. More trafficis becoming a central selling point for poker players. The online poker market in the US shows the full extent of the legislative flaws in the state-by-state control system. With the restriction on cross-state iGaming, some states just do not have the population to support these games, making them an unviable option.

A solution that’s being considered is to allow states to work together while complying with federal lawand benefiting from state-by-state shared traffic. This, however, hasn’t proved to be a simple solution yet. Currently, only four states have been able to form an MSIGA. The iGaming industry hopes more states can form interstate partnerships and boost industry growth even more.

MSIGA: What does this mean for your players?

New Jersey, Nevada, Michigan and Delaware have come together to form a partnership and agreed upon specific terms concerning an MSIGA that works for each state. This has already seen a great increase in poker mobility, and is set to increase the popularity and overall success of the game. These results are making it an attractive option for even more states to participate in similar agreements.

What this means is that a player in Nevada can compete against a player in Michigan, and it is the same for the other states with an MSIGA. However, as we know, the US market is highly regulated and a MSIGA is no exception to some rigid laws. For operators and platform providers to host in multiple states simultaneously, they must ensure:

An MSIGA agreement has beenentered into by the relevant control board. All licenses and approvals requiredby the board have been obtained by the operator, platform provider, and any other parties participating in multistate poker. Multistate poker has been specifically authorized by the board.

Moving forward – supplier licensing & vendor registration

Depending on the services that are provided, new providers that make use of a multistate poker platform may need to register with the board. This includes software providers, hosting providers and marketers.

"With the restriction on cross-state iGaming, some states just do not have the population to support these games, making them an unviable option."

It also applies to new platform providers contracted by operators who do not currently offer poker. Software platforms are required to meet five new minimum standards to protect personal data and financial credentials as well as negate all cheating activity. This information must be kept in the eventof an investigation or complaint.

Across all four states, these measures strengthen the responsible gambling procedures provided by online poker operators.

The rest of the US

In addition to Pennsylvania, Connecticut and West Virginia both have legal, regulated online poker, but their entry into the compact would be challenging. Due to their small populations, all three states could only contributed a limited amount to shared liquidity through a MSIGA. Connecticut has about 3.6 million residents, while West Virginia has 1.8 million, and Pennsylvania has 12 million, with only 11.1% of people stating that they participate in iGaming activities. All in all, the benefits of MSIGAs are clear for all to see.

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