Despite the fact that the game is illegal in several states, it remains one of the most popular forms of online gambling. In recent years, there have been signs that some of the more restrictive state laws are beginning to relax and allow for regulated online poker sites. Whether this is a permanent change or simply a reaction to the increased popularity of sports betting, it is clear that online poker could eventually become legal in more places than ever.
The first steps to legalizing online poker took place in Nevada, which was the first US state to launch regulated sites in 2022. Since then, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania have passed their own laws and launched their own regulated sites as well. Now, it looks as if Michigan is ready to join the party and will allow players from all four states to play against each other on one network. Illinois is also preparing to launch its own regulated online poker site as well, and with the help of Rush Street Interactive (RSI), which operates the WSOP brand, it could soon become the country’s first multi-state regulated online poker network.
Other than that, most states are either still waiting to pass their own legislation or they are not considering it at all. In fact, few states are more anti-gambling than Nebraska, and it is unlikely that online poker will ever be legal in the state.
Online poker is not yet available in California, but the state does have a robust live poker scene and plenty of land-based casinos. If lawmakers do decide to pass an online poker bill, they would likely have to consider imposing licensing fees and other measures to control the industry. There is a chance that California may eventually opt to join the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA), which could make it easier for sites to operate in multiple states.
The Department of Justice recently reversed its position on the Wire Act, which could also open the door for legal online poker moving forward. However, given the fact that the government is currently focusing its attention on sports betting, it is unlikely that any progress will be made on this front for quite some time.
As it stands, New York is a huge market for regulated online poker, with its 19.7 million residents. This makes it larger than the other states that have legalized poker, including Pennsylvania and Michigan. The Empire State is also a major casino hub, which should provide lawmakers with plenty of impetus to move on this front in the future.