Poker’s legal status within the United States has been mostly undetermined for the longest time. Following a surge in popularity in the early 2000s, the game was then largely killed by the Black Friday crackdown on offshore operators in 2011. This temporary setback led many to doubt that poker may ever be seen as a legal online activity in the country. Despite the failure of lobby groups, such as Poker Players Alliance, now rebranded as Poker Alliance, to make sure the game would overcome its greatest setback, poker is back with renewed force.
Poker and Legal Sports Betting – Are the Two Related?
One of the most notable accomplishments of the recent past is the defeat of a federal ban, rendering all sports betting activities illegal. In May, the State of New Jersey fought a piece of legislation known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 or PASPA in the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and won. The fallout saw one state after the other pushing ahead with their plans to legalize sports betting.
What does this mean for online poker, though? To be honest, SCOTUS’ decision does very little to change matters for online poker. The reason for this lies in the fact that online poker was regulated with the Federal Wire Act issued in 2011, meaning that everything that was not sports betting was subject to the Act.
Since SCOTUS only repealed the decisions of PASPA, it’s somewhat understandable why online poker is still not enjoying the same legal leeway as is sports betting. However, the Federal Wire Act is quite the opposite of PASPA. It’s not a piece of legislation designed to kill online poker. In fact, the Act makes it perfectly legal for any state that wants to pass its own online poker legislation to do so.
The only shortcoming is that politicians cannot really build momentum on the issue and use the interest in online poker legislation to advance their own agenda. As a result, the legalization of online poker has come to somewhat of a crawl, although efforts are being made and the prospects are looking good.
Estimated 15 States to Have Legal Online Poker By 2020
Presently, Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania are the four states to offer legal online poker. The four states have not been going it alone. Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey have decided to share their liquidity in a bid to offer bigger prizes to the players that hail or operate on the territory of the states.
The decision has had varying effects, with some states registering higher results while others reporting a slight decrease in their poker proceedings. Still, all three states remain adamant that the consolidation of the sector and sharing of liquidity is the way to go.
Meanwhile, there are other states that are hoping to work through and pass their own piece of legislation making online poker legal. New York has been one of the more contentious places in the country.
The state has been hoping to partner with the ones that have already developed their operations. However, a delay in the passing of legislation will now most certainly defer legal online poker in New York back to 2019.
Despite the setback, New York is definitely a desired location where overseas operators are looking to make a splash. While online poker has been temporarily put on the backburner, known betting agency bet365 has hired a lobbyist group to push for online sports betting in the state.
Meanwhile, experts estimate that 15 states are more than likely to have passed a bill that effectively legalizes online poker on their territories by 2020. Naturally, delays in legislation have dashed the 2018 hopes of many of the viable places where the game could have already been a fact.
If you want to learn more, be sure to visit Online Poker America for comprehensive coverage on poker legislation across the US. Now, let’s focus on the individual candidates for legalizing their online poker activities.
The States that Want to Have Online Poker Sooner than Later
Breaking down the list of states to legalize the game, we must mention Illinois. Even though the state made steady attempts to prepare its own framework, the efforts have been met with delays on the part of lawmakers. A proposed bill garnered as many as 50 sponsors when it was deposited. And yet, Illinois remains with an undetermined legal status. This is likely to change in 2019 at the latest.
Meanwhile, West Virginia’s new year began well. In January, five Democrat state lawmakers reintroduced H 3067, a bill targeting the legalization of online poker. The bill established a number of important criteria for participation, including the legal age of the individuals as well the necessity to verify the physical location of all participants.
Connecticut has been another place where online poker has been hoping to gain traction. Back in March, the Connecticut Public Safety and Security Committee had a meeting with two of the state’s gaming tribes, the Mohegan Tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, both of which expressed readiness to support an online gambling bill, but little has transpired since then.
Legislation Drags Its Feet
Significant efforts have been made to legalize online poker. As a game of skill, it’s understandable why casinos and lawmakers have rather limited incentive to introduce it. For one, kickstarting tournaments requires sufficient funds beforehand.
However, the growing popularity of the segment is hard to deny. Even if casinos may not find the game to be immediately lucrative, there are easy ways to accumulate profit via the house edge. Naturally, a lot of the money will have to be re-invested in order for players to stay happy and keep coming back.
But even then, online poker is shaping itself up as a product that excites the fancies of people from all across the United States and the world. Even if lawmakers are shifting their legs on this, what’s next for online poker is a full legalization that includes the majority of states in the United States.