In May of 2018, a groundbreaking announcement shook the United States gaming industry. The Supreme Court struck down a 1992 federal law that prohibited states from allowing sports betting. It was in response to the state of New Jersey’s legal challenge to the law and has been widely celebrated as a major coup for the sports betting industry. But what happened since the decision? And how does it all affect the online poker and casino industry?
New Jersey Leads the Way
It all began back in 2011, when New Jersey voters approved a suggestion to legalize sports betting to help the state’s casino industry, improve tourism numbers and bring in much-needed state funds through taxes. The state law was then challenged by the NCAA and professional sports leagues who felt that a move to allow sports betting would have a profound effect on the integrity of the sports involved. However, those in favor of the law change pointed to the fact that unauthorized sports betting has been in existence for many years, and yet, the sports in question remain unaffected.
A legal battle that dragged on for seven years followed, but with the Supreme Court’s ruling, states throughout the U.S. can now follow New Jersey’s lead. Of course, this decision relates to betting on sporting events, but it could be so much more. With many casinos now in a position to offer sports betting to its customers both in person and online, it seems only a matter of time, before lovers of Texas Hold ‘em and Omaha Hi-Lo will also feel cause for celebration.
But It’s Not Only Sports
So, as you have already guessed, it’s not only sports betting on events such as horse racing and the Super Bowl. The Supreme Court ruling once again opens the debate on whether states should allow online casino providers to operate legally. Industry heavyweights such as 888poker have led the way in the past, and with more states set to allow online poker and casino games, a huge swathe of providers are ready to join the market.
The States That Allow Online Poker
In April of 2013, Nevada became the first state to allow online casinos to operate within its boundaries. It’s fitting given that the symbolic home of casinos was the first, but it didn’t take long for others to follow suit. By June of the same year, Delaware had joined Nevada by legalizing online gambling, and on October 31 st , casino games came online in the state.
Interestingly though, it was the state of New Jersey that first set the ball rolling. Back in 2011, the state legislature passed a bill to allow online casino games. However, Governor Chris Christie vetoed the decision. It took almost two years of legal to-ing and fro-ing to pass the bill, but a revamped version finally approved.
Since November 21, 2013, residents of New Jersey aged 21 and over have been able to play poker and other casino games online. The move was a resounding success, and in 2017, the online gaming industry netted the state over $100 million in tax revenue. Indeed, the combined revenue of the state’s online casinos now exceeds that of many of the state’s live casinos. This incredible period of growth, alongside the success of both Nevada and Delaware, has struck a nerve with other states, and as we mentioned earlier, opened a conversation on the topic.
The States That Might
While many U.S. poker players may have no online options available right now, the outlook is not that bleak. There are several states that may pass legislation in the near future, and many others watching the landscape before making their moves. Here are some of the most likely to pass laws.
In 2017, Pennsylvania passed a bill on sports betting that also included online poker and casino games. That made Pennsylvania the fourth state to legalize online casinos, but online poker rooms are yet to open. Hopefully, they will do so in 2019. The future for state residents looks bright.
Online poker is not yet regulated in California, but in the state with the highest proportion of live poker players, online casinos make absolute sense. We don’t expect it to happen soon, but if things pan out well for Pennsylvania, the Golden State could follow suit. With the state already discussing sports betting, this one seems highly likely.
In 2018, West Virginia legalized sports betting both in person and online. That bodes well for the future of online poker, as it proves that legislators want to listen to sensible arguments. Hopefully, in the coming year, more movement will take place, and we could see online casinos soon.
As of now, online poker is illegal in the state, but a new bill introduced by Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. has opened the discussion. The bill will be up before lawmakers in 2019 and has a
good chance of coming into legislation. However, until then, local players are in a state of limbo. There are also many other states still sitting on the fence or focusing their attention on sports betting for now. But make no mistake, should any of those states pass laws allowing sports betting, online casinos would be the natural next step. It may take a few more years, but we expect this list to double in the near future.
The State That Won’t
There’s only one state that we can be sure will never allow online poker or casino games, and that’s the state of Utah. The state is inherently anti-gambling, and it’s even written into their constitution. There is strictly no gambling of any kind within state lines, and any change would take a significant effort. We can’t see this one ever happening.
With 2019 now in full swing, many legislators throughout the U.S. have sports betting on their minds. And with public opinion on the topic quite positive, it seems only a matter of time before most of the country’s 50 states have some decision regarding the legality of sports betting one way or the other. The online poker industry in the U.S. may have taken quite some time to get off the ground, but legislators’ willingness to discuss sports betting is the type of news that all poker lovers will be happy to hear.