Since Black Friday, gaming choices in the United States have been scarce, to say the least. New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware already have regulated online poker, but several more states are now preparing to launch their own poker rooms if bills pass in the legislature. Some are closer than others, but these are the states that are currently working on bringing online poker back to the US.
Recently regulated New Jersey’s neighbor, Pennsylvania, is perhaps close than anyone to legalizing and regulating online poker in the state. State Rep John Payne has been an advocate for regulating online poker for years now, but last year his latest bill was passed by the House Gaming Oversight Committee. With the exception of Sheldon Adelson’s Sands Casino, the land-based operators are all on board with the regulation efforts. It is expected to pass some time in the middle of 2016.
PokerStars and local tribes have put a lot of muscle behind passing online poker regulation in California. This week, it was passed by the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee unanimously. There is still a debate over whether PokerStars will be excluded as a “bad actor,” but regulators have not made a final decision. With this passage, it will be the first time in nearly a decade that a full vote on an online poker bill has happened.
Michigan has perhaps one of the most interesting online poker bills at the moment. Senate Bill No 889 was introduced last week and, in addition to providing the state revenue through a 10% tax, could include sharing liquidity with not only other states, but international poker rooms as well. They are one of the only sites that has an online lottery, so it makes sense that they would now offer online poker and house-banked gaming. Ring fenced player pools have been a hot topic among regulators and this could signify a change in the idea that players should be fenced in to their state of residence. Maryland and Nevada share a player pool, but this extends much further.
The state of New York has flirted with the idea of online poker for a few years, but now they appear to be on track for regulation as soon as this year. New brick and mortar casinos were approved in the state last year, but many are expecting that online gaming will be seen as a chance to increase that revenue even more. According to estimates, that revenue could reach $120 million in the first year, a staggering number considering neighboring New Jersey is currently earning around $24 million a year. Daily Fantasy Sports should come to a vote this year and some are hoping that poker will be included as well, which would perhaps increase the chances of passage.
While other states have been debating online poker for a long time, Oklahoma may be ready to jump far ahead of the curve. The Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma has received clearance from the federal government to open a poker room with an international player pool and they say that it could be launched as soon as August 1st. The problem with that is, however, for the foreseeable future it will only be open to those international players. Other licenses will be required, and a lot of red tape, to allow US players in states that have already legalized online gaming and are open to inter-state liquidity.
It may still be more than a year away for these states, but these are certainly steps forward. We will remain hopeful and keep you updated on any progress in these bills.