Lynn “Queen of Hearts” Paris
As 2016 draws to a close (thankfully, for many of us) it’s probably a good time to revisit our sporadic review of the status of legal online poker. When we began covering it, we assumed that there would be exciting news to report on a semi-regular basis as state legislatures voted to follow Nevada’s lead to legalize and regulate online poker. However, with the exception of New Jersey and Delaware, nothing much has happened since 2013. In fact, more states have legalized marijuana than online gaming, something we could never have predicted.
Looking ahead to 2017, there are four states that might push to get a bill passed – Pennsylvania, California, Michigan and New York — although all face hurdles that may be difficult to overcome.
As Greg Raymer, member of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) Board of Directors put it, “Every state has a chance, and the best way to get online poker in your state is to let your representatives know you want it, and that their decision on this issue makes a difference when it’s time for you to vote. Tell them now, and tell them often. And get your poker friends to do the same.”
It is difficult to understand how states which already allow betting on horse racing, Daily Fantasy sports, and the sale of lottery tickets haven’t made more progress getting an online poker bill passed. It’s not like they couldn’t make good use of the potential millions of dollars of revenue generated by legalizing and regulating the poker industry.
On the federal level, it’s anybody’s guess, since predicting what the President-elect will do is a foolhardy proposition. What we do know is that there are several congressmen who pushed for an online gambling ban in 2016, including Senators Tom Cotton, Lindsey Graham and Mike Lee and U.S. Representative Mike Fitzpatrick. Behind the desire to ban online poker is none other than billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson, an ardent anti-online gaming mogul. How much he will attempt to influence the new administration is not known, but if he wants republicans to protect his brick and mortar interests, all bets for a 2017 online gambling victory will be off.
In the meantime, those of us who live in a state which still does not allow online poker have to be content with playing on the virtual felt of online poker free-roll tables.