Legalizing Online Poker in the US – The New Frontier

2 months ago
Poker Chips
16 Jan

Online gambling has been on the global rise year after year, and the United States is no exception. To be more precise, the projected revenue will have reached $33.15 billion by 2028 (from $19 billion in 2023), with the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.61% in the 2023-2028 interval.

This is amusing data if we know that online casino gambling is legal only in seven federal states (although online sports betting is more widely legalized). In Delaware, Connecticut, New Jersey, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, people have been enjoying iGames for some time now. Rhode Island adopted the relevant act in June 2023, which will come into effect in March 2024, making the Ocean State the seventh federal unit that has legalized online gaming (poker included).

This article analyzes the state of the iGaming union for the time being, and what states could legalize online poker and other games in 2024.

In-house Gambling vs. Online Casinos

First, let’s explain why 43 federal states still haven’t legalized online gambling – unlike online sports betting, legalized in many states.

The main reason industry experts often highlight is the fear that online casinos would endanger in-house gambling. In other words, if people can place their bets online, they might not visit brick-and-mortar casinos that much. If we know how much money Atlantic City and Las Vegas make from in-person gambling and betting, this explanation has a point.

However, let’s not neglect the fact that Atlantic City is in New Jersey – one of the federal states in which iGaming is legal. In this case, the state takes the best of both worlds – they collect taxes from both offline and online gambling. Based on the figures in this state, it seems that brick-and-mortar gambling and iGaming would support each other, not cause conflict and competition.

Current Affairs in Online Poker

In the seven states in which online gaming is legal, people are also eligible to play online poker for real money.

In addition to this iGaming septet, Nevada is another federal state in which you can play online poker legally. The Silver State is an interesting case study in terms of online gambling in general. Even though this is the global gambling mecca, exceeding the US borders, it has been harsh on iGaming legislation. You don’t have to be Einstein to figure out why this is so: the incredible 200 land-based casinos and the interested parties behind them aren’t too keen on online casinos for the reasons given above.

Still, they didn’t mind passing legislation regarding poker websites, so Nevadans and their guests can now freely play online poker.

iGaming California

In line with the recent news on the gambling industry in the US, a fervent discussion has been going on in California throughout 2023. Truth be told, the negotiations between the industry experts, casino owners, and state’s legal authorities have been held for several years, with new bills proposed centered on regulating and legalizing online poker. The differences between the stakeholders in terms of owner eligibility, legal licensing, and players’ rights are the main obstacles to reaching a compromise.

What’s more, the Sunshine State is the largest US federal state in terms of tribal casinos. Since there’s special legislation in terms of tribal-owned casinos in California the economic and political aspects of these decisions must be carefully weighed. Just like in Nevada and some other states, casinos have been built on once-tribal land. Given the delicate nature of the entire position of Indian tribes in the US today, every legal, economical, and political decision that would affect their rights must be brought with special attention.

Online Poker in Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky

In Illinois, the situation is promising, as the online-poker regulations are under discussion as we speak. Once the act is passed, the State of Lincoln, with a population of 12 million people, will become the second most populous state in which online poker is legal (after Pennsylvania).

Rumor has it that Indiana is also preparing a new iGaming act – online poker included – that would let the citizens of this federal state indulge themselves in online gambling in a legal and user-friendly manner. The main roadblocks are different standpoints of the dominant political figures there, but the estimated revenue of $75 million per year from taxes could speed things up.

Once a strict anti-iGaming state, Kentucky has changed over the last decade. The state authorities are now considering new bills that would make room to legalize online poker within a reasonable period.

New York and Massachusetts in the Pipeline

Even though the Empire State and the Bay State aren’t as close to legalizing online poker as the other states above, there are some negotiations between the interested parties. The State of New York is especially interesting from a commercial point of view – more than 19 million people live there – but the legal process there is a long and winding road. New Yorkers would certainly vote in favor of adopting such an act. Speaking of New Yorkers and gambling, check out Jordan Belfort’s story.

Still, a lot of physical casinos are against online gambling, at least until they have their own websites up and running.

Massachusetts, on the other hand, doesn’t bring that many potential iGamers, but it’s interesting from a political standpoint. Another state that legalizes and fully regulates online poker would give a back wind to other states planning the same. With Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania that have already legalized it, NY and MA would be nice additions to this Northeast iGaming Coalition.

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Nenad is equal parts animal lover, poker enthusiast, and nostalgic nerd. He spends his time writing and gaming with the occasional binging of a TV show or a cartoon.Read more


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