Online Poker Progress Continues to Stall in the United States

While 2016 started out promising in regards to seeing a new state pass online poker legislation, it seems the year will go by without a new state in the industry.

Online poker is an activity that millions of people enjoy, however in the United States, players are left with only three options. Only Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware provide online poker gaming for real money after having passed legislation a few years ago. Since 2013, other states have considered passing legislation to allow poker gaming online but none have been successful. For 2016, it seemed a few states might be close to agreeing on legislation and regulation, two in particular being Pennsylvania and California. However the year is almost over and November has ended with no progress on the matter.

Interested States

There are several states interested in offering online poker gaming and some that came pretty close. California was the front runner for a while having tried to pass legislation in regards to online poker gaming for over eight years now. A main point of contention was the fact that tribal groups, card rooms, race tracks and legislators could not get on the same page as far as who should be involved in the industry. This was still a factor this year and California slowly began to fall back and not show any promise of passing legislation.

Pennsylvania soon became the front runner as legislation was moved through the State House but this bill only stalled after the summer approval in the Senate. The Senate was supposed to vote on the measure in the fall but there were complications. The State Supreme Court decided to rule just a few weeks ago that the state tax for casinos was unconstitutional. The legislators of the state now had to find a solution for the gaming tax. The House and the Senate seem to be torn in regards to what to do. Both want to solve the tax issue but one wants to include additional gaming expansions such as online options, which has caused legislation to stall. For 2016, Pennsylvania is now out and will have to wait until 2017 to try to make any legislative changes.

Surprisingly, Michigan is the mix. The state still has a bill pending for 2016 that could pass. However, there are only a few short weeks left in the year for movement on the legislation to be made.

Problems for 2017

When it comes to online poker, many are worried that 2017 may signal a little backpedaling. Recent efforts by attorneys general in the US have seen talk of a federal online gambling ban surface once again. Ten attorneys general signed a letter sent to the incoming president and vice president asking for the ban to be considered. This is not good for the online poker industry. The efforts seem to be driven in part by Sheldon Adelson, the CEO of the Las Vegas Sands and a major opponent of online gambling.

Adelson has tried for some time to see online gambling banned on a federal level in the United States. It seems Adelson and his fellow anti-online gambling supporters are hoping that once the White House and Congress are republican led they will have the upper hand and possibly see the activity banned for good. This would not only harm the industries that already exist but also be hurtful to those who will take part in online gambling for real money despite no regulations in place. Offshore operators still exist and without regulations in place, consumers are not protected.