Poker will enter a new "Golden Era" as online poker becomes legal in many places where it has not been legal. The United States will lead the way. The fifty states and their 330 million citizens await new laws that will make online poker legal.
More People Will Play Online Poker in 2019, By Far
Poker is already a massively popular game and it will become even more popular as the great changes that began in 2018 gain momentum in 2019. We expect all fifty states in the U.S. to legalize or discuss legalization of online poker in 2019.
Poker is Set to Launch into the Stratosphere in 2019
As 2018 nears its end, we can look back on the year as possibly the most important year in the short history of online gaming, sports betting, and poker. Intertops returned to the American market this year and we were not the only online gaming or online poker site to do so. There are many more places to play poker online than there were just twelve months ago.
So, as we focus on the sea of change in online poker, we also have to recognize that 2018 was a year of huge change in every facet of online gaming.
There are three primary aspects to the great developments of 2018:
- The United States opened markets in sports betting and online gaming.
- Governments increasingly see gaming, sports betting, and poker as ways to grow their sources of tax revenue.
- Many governments have found that they can, in fact, successfully regulate online gambling even as they once made online gaming illegal.
The United States Market
The biggest development in the U.S. in 2018 was the decision by the Supreme Court in May to void PASPA, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, that had been the law of the land since 1992.
PASPA was passed into law to protect sports from any hint of gambling corruption. There were two very significant aspects to PASPA that taken together made the law unviable. The first is that at the time, four states had some form of legal sports betting already and PASPA allowed them to continue the practice. The second aspect is that the American public so loves to bet on sports that they bet about $80 billion both legally and illegally in 2017.
So, PASPA sought to make sports betting illegal yet allowed it to continue in four states including Nevada where Las Vegas is located and the American public simply placed their bets with local bookmakers. If the sports that the law was intended to protect weren’t wracked by scandal in the intervening 26 years, then they wouldn’t be wracked by scandal if PASPA were ended.
The states realized long before the Supreme Court’s decision that sports betting was about to be allowed. Some began to develop strategies for the “day after”. One such strategy called for sports betting to be done through land based casinos whilst others looked to legalize online sports betting directly.
It is a very small step indeed to go from legalizing online sports betting to legalizing and regulating online poker. That is the big news that 2018 has brought into the world of poker. So, let’s focus the rest of this article on the world of online poker in the United States. Needless to say, there is a great deal to report.
Led by State Senator Brandt Iden, Michigan is working feverishly to pass an online poker law by the end of December. For our purposes, it doesn’t matter if the law becomes reality in 2018 or next year. It is by now a foregone conclusion that Michigan will legalize and regulate online poker very soon. The main reason for the big push in Michigan is because the state needs a large new source of revenue and the massive online market is considered the mother lode of untapped tax revenues.
The news from Michigan contrasts with the news from New Jersey where online poker seems to have entered a doldrums. What this means is that there are so many avenues for gamers and bettors to wager that online poker specifically in the last year has attracted less gambling than have casinos in general and especially sports betting.
In New Jersey, 2018 will be hailed as the year of the great Supreme Court decision to legalize sports betting and gaming in all its forms will never be the same in this state or in any other state in the country.
The lesson of 2018 from New Jersey is that it will take a few years to determine what the share of the gambling pie each niche within that pie can expect to realize in any year.
For the states, it doesn’t matter which gambling niche leads and which follows as long as the overall tax revenue doesn’t drop.
The new changes in the law are being felt strongly in Pennsylvania. Now, it would be a good idea to look at a map of the United States. Although New Jersey is a coastal state, it was the epicenter of the attempt to derail PASPA and by doing so opened up the online gaming market throughout the United States.
As the leader of the movement to legalize sports betting and online casino gaming, New Jersey was the one state to have the most ready to implement day-after plan. This meant that legislatures in nearby and neighboring states had to get on the bandwagon quickly.
West Virginia and New York are in different stages of getting their new gambling laws in place with New York lagging behind upstart West Virginia. Pennsylvania is just across the border from New Jersey and Philadelphia is a metropolis of several million people who are just a short drive to New Jersey to gamble on sports and the like.
Still, Pennsylvania has found it very difficult to get a comprehensive law in place for poker, online gaming, and sports betting.
Although industry observers say that sports betting will generate far more tax revenue than online poker, both seem ready to launch at about the same time. Advocates of online poker in Pennsylvania have long made the case that it doesn’t matter if sports betting generates more money than online poker does. There is no evidence that sports betting would generate more if online poker were not made legal and also that there is no evidence that sports betting would generate less revenue if online poker were allowed in the state.
So, we can expect Pennsylvania to join the set of states that have legalized and will regulate online poker.
2018 Was Like an Earthquake
In a sense, 2018 saw the big tremor and a few aftershocks and 2019 will simple see more aftershocks. One thing is sure: state legislatures will take up the notions of sports betting, online gaming, and online poker in 2019. They will have the time to take the issue with more deliberation than in 2018. That means that online poker will probably become legal in 2019 in many states across the vast United States.