With online poker growth stagnating in Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada, many U.S. players are interested to see which state will legalize the game next. After all, if another state legalizes online poker, then it increases the chance that they share player pools with other states and further liquidity. So what US states are on the radar for being serious about regulating iPoker? Let’s take a look at the five most likely below.
The Keystone State has zoomed to the forefront after introducing four different iPoker bills in 2015. Bill HB649, from Rep. John Payne, has gotten the most attention from Pennsylvania’s legislature. What’s great about HB649 is that it legalizes both online casino games and poker, plus allows for interstate compacts with other states. That means Pennsylvania’s 12.8 million residents would be eligible for iPoker player-pool sharing. Given that PA is in gaming competition with several states on the East Coast, they need iGaming to keep up with the industry.
For the past few years, California has been on the verge of legalizing online poker. However, they now seem less likely to regulate the game before Pennsylvania does because their sticking point remains the same each year: who gets into the market? Several tribal gaming interests would like to keep both PokerStars and race tracks out of the iPoker industry. However, both Stars and race tracks have made some powerful alliances within the state, meaning this stalemate must be resolved before things can move forward.
3. New York
The Empire State has really jumped into the fold over the last year, when Republican Sen. John Bonacic introduced Bill S 5302. This is the second year in a row that Bonacic has done so, with the first time only being to start the discussion. Well, thanks to plenty of lobbying by MGM, the discussion is more than started and New York is now one of the closest states to having iPoker. This is especially the case when considering that, like Pennsylvania, they want to keep pace in the East Coast market.
There’s a big drop-off when you get to this point in the list of states that are considering iGaming. Nevertheless, Illinois has had discussions on offering online poker in recent years. The big problem for the Prairie State, though, is that they still need to sort out their land-based casino situation. Only then can they truly begin serious discussions on legalizing iGaming.
Just like California, Iowa has been discussing online poker for several years. But the key difference here is that state politicians seem less receptive of the idea, with numerous proposals dying out in legislature. Nevertheless, the Hawkeye State remains intent on studying iPoker and considering the issue in the future. Recently, it was revealed that Iowa’s 3.1 million residents collectively spend between $13 million and $60 million at offshore gambling sites.