A new year is upon us, which means that there’s a fresh opportunity for more states to legalize and regulate online poker. But which states are most serious about legalizing iPoker in 2016? Let’s take a look at 10 states below that could possibly regulate online poker and casino games.
Pennsylvania kept iGaming enthusiasts hoping throughout the year as they considered legislation up until the end of 2015. Unfortunately, politicians weren’t able to agree on a budget plan, which an online poker bill would have been attached to. But the good news is that the Keystone State remains very interested in iPoker, given that they’re looking for ways to reduce their growing $2 billion deficit.
- New York
The Empire State began discussing online poker more towards the end of the year. And while they never came as close as Pennsylvania to introducing a bill, politicians seem very receptive of the idea. New York seems particularly interested because they don’t want Pennsylvania to get a leg up on their gaming market. So expect New York to legalize online poker within the next year or two.
For the past several years Massachusetts has been discussing iGaming. These discussions haven’t resulted in much, but that could change greatly this year. Massachusetts is very interested in regulating daily fantasy sports, and the hope is that online poker could somehow sneak into such legislation too. 2016 will reveal far more on how serious the Bay State is about the matter.
This would obviously be a boon to iPoker because California has 38.8 million residents and the world’s eighth-largest economy. However, the key holdup has been the potential operators’ inability to compromise on certain issues. Specifically, state Indian tribes don’t think that race tracks and PokerStars should be allowed in the market. There was little sign of compromise in 2015, which means it’s tough to say when California online poker will be a reality.
There are already two tribes that offer free-play gaming sites in Connecticut, so it’s not like the idea is new here. And Governor Dan Malloy has been receptive to using online gaming to reduce the state’s $300 million deficit. Plus it doesn’t hurt that the state’s tribes are pushing for iPoker to help them stay competitive with Massachusetts and New York.
Illinois has shown plenty of interest in online gaming lately, especially daily fantasy sports. Assuming they regulate DFS, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that they’d also consider other forms of iGaming too. And seeing as how the Prairie State has 12.9 million residents, this would make for a nice online poker pool.
- Washington State
Once vehemently opposed to iPoker, the state of Washington seems to be softening their stance lately. Poker advocate Curtis Woodward pushed the state to introduce HB 1114, which happened in 2015. The legislature didn’t pass HB 1114, but Woodward and his group of advocates will continue pushing their agenda this year too.
Iowa’s government has been interested in iPoker for several years. And legislation has been introduced in the past but to no avail. Despite these failures, the Hawkeye State continues studying online poker and figuring out how much they can make from the game. One revelation from their studies is that Iowa’s population of 3.1 million has collectively spent anywhere from $13 million to $60 million at black-market gaming sites.
Having already passed an online lottery bill, Michigan has shown receptiveness to iGaming. Assuming online lottery sales continue doing well, perhaps they’ll consider approving online poker and other types of gaming.
Michigan’s neighbor to the south has not had any serious discussions about online gaming. But it’s promising that they have a somewhat large land-based casino industry. Unfortunately, 2016 may be too soon for Ohio to actually consider passing an online poker bill. This is especially the case with Governor John Kasich now running for the Republican Presidential nomination.