Online poker has come a long way since its inception. Its popularity continues to grow in the United States and the game is now offered by numerous regulated state-based venues. As more people play the game, revenue streams are increasing. This has led many to wonder, is online poker legal?
The US federal government has strict anti-online gambling laws that have impacted the industry for years. However, in the wake of the DOJ’s “Black Friday” opinion, individual states were able to pass laws that legalized, regulated, and licensed online casinos and poker sites. This was a big change for the online poker industry and set the stage for the current state-based model of online poker.
Currently, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware all have legal and regulated online poker sites. Michigan and West Virginia are in the process of launching sites. These sites combine the resources of regulated land-based casino operators with the expertise of poker operations to offer players a safe, secure, and fair gaming experience.
These new legal online poker sites are also providing a significant source of tax revenue to the state-based gambling industry. This is a huge factor in why these states are able to provide a stable regulatory environment for regulated online poker. However, there are a number of factors that could prevent other states from pursuing legalization in the near future. One big hurdle is the resistance of existing gaming providers who don’t want to lose control over the online poker market. Another obstacle is disputes among various stakeholders over the distribution of revenues and how players will be rewarded.
Will New York Legalize Online Poker?
The New York legislature has approved the launch of mobile sports betting, and a vote on online poker is expected soon. The vote could take place as early as 2022, which would put online poker on par with sports betting. If the bill is successful, it will be a big step forward for the industry and a huge boon to New York state tax coffers.
New York is one of just a few states that doesn’t allow residents to play for real money at regulated poker rooms. In order to do so, they would have to travel to New Jersey, which is a big inconvenience for the average player. New York lawmakers have passed a few bills that would legalize online poker, but these efforts have yet to bear fruit.
The next steps for New York will be to determine if the game can be considered a sport of skill and, if so, what that means in terms of regulation and taxation. New Hampshire, which has legalized lottery betting, is another possibility for legalized online poker in the future. However, Hawaii bans all forms of gambling so there is no chance for regulated online poker in that state. In the meantime, poker enthusiasts can enjoy the games available on the offshore websites that accept players from all US states.