Will Legal Online Poker Be Next in the US?


After SCOTUS declared PASPA to be unconstitutional, many wonder if this move will fuel the call for online poker to be legalized across several US states.

When the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) repealed last week the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) and opened the door for legalized sports betting, many asked if the legalization of online poker across several US states will come next.

The US online poker market was significantly large until the implementation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in October 2006. This law prevented major names on the said market to provide US players with online poker services. With PASPA’s chances of affecting the online poker market in the US rather slim, many are hopeful that inevitable will happen: online poker to be legalized in the US.

Can PASPA Influence the Legality of US Online Poker?

Players Enjoy Online PokerPASPA does not have any direct relation to poker and other forms of online gaming since the act only affects sports betting. This means that some states like Delaware are allowed to legalize online poker even before the New Jersey case ruling last week. But the progress of legislations that will allow poker brands to operate on a regulated market has been slow for a significant time.

The SCOTUS ruling on PASPA can have an indirect way of helping the legalization of online poker in the US. The New Jersey case was intended to bring down the unregulated sports betting environment within the region. Legalization of online poker and all other forms of gaming online, however, can be paralleled to the PASPA ruling.

One major reason for opening a regulated online poker market within a state is the potential revenue.  New Jersey, one of four US states where iGaming is legal, made more than US$114 million in total since November 2013.

Rich Muny, president of the Poker Players Alliance, said last Monday:

“Today marks an important date for the future of gaming in the United States. The future of sports betting will continue to rely on internet and mobile technologies, and this is also true for all gaming. Now more than ever, states should take control of unregulated internet poker and sports betting and create systems that protect adult consumers and provide governments with new streams of revenue.”

Jason Somerville, poker celebrity and ambassador for PokerStars, said in a tweet:

“Great news to wake up to! we’ll see just how much this helps US online poker but the financial incentives for states to pass gaming legislation just got a whole lot more attractive. let’s go!”

| Related: 2 US States Prepare to Launch Own US Sports Betting Market

States That Push for Legalized Online Poker

Several states have already made their intentions clear to push for legalized online poker. One of the notable states to do so within the year is New York because of its State Senator John Bonacic. The New York senator has been driving online poker, sports betting, and daily fantasy sports legislation for a long time within his state. He is set to retire in Fall 2018, and this makes the passage of the bill for legalized online gaming within this year important for New York.

In another state, Connecticut has had issues with getting support from Native American gaming tribes to legalize online gaming within the state. With the PASPA ruling, Connecticut’s Gov. Dan Malloy had called for a General Assembly to discuss the legalization of sportsbooks in his state.

While there are no indications that Connecticut plans to create its online poker market, the possibility of a regulated online gaming market is good if the General Assembly approves the legalization of sports betting within the state. In a press conference in February this year, Connecticut lawmakers hinted that they are targeting other spectrums of online gaming apart from sports betting.

Joseph Aresimowicz, house speaker of Connecticut, said:

“The world has changed, even since we’ve done the compact. You can now gamble online. This is a new area; we believe we should have the discussions. We’ll work with the attorneys; we’ll work with the committees, and we’ll work with the Attorney General’s office to ensure whatever we pass looks out for the state of Connecticut number one, and then our many providers throughout the state.”

Time will only tell if other states will follow the footsteps of Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania to sign the online gambling legislation into law.

| Related: SCOTUS: Law Banning Sports Betting Unconstitutional

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