Regulated U.S. online poker 2020 — 10 FAQs.
Regulated U.S. Online Poker 2020 FAQs (Introduction)
The November 2019 launch of PokerStars Pennsylvania has sparked renewed interest in the future of regulated U.S. online poker. Aside from the Keystone State and soon Michigan, licensed real money games have only spread to New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware since 2011.
However, many American online poker players are hopeful that the “Michigan Lawful Internet Gaming Act” could represent a meaningful step to establishing a legitimate shared liquidity cross-state online poker market in upcoming years… now that the bill is signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Regulated U.S. Online Poker 2020 FAQs
Following are author-generated answers to 10 Frequently Asked Questions concerning regulated U.S. online poker in 2020.
1. What is the current status of Michigan online poker?
The Great Lakes State has legalized online poker. A revised version of Michigan House Bill 4311 was approved by the state legislature and received the governor’s signature — creating a formal infrastructure to license real money online games — possibly as soon as 2020.
2. Which of the four states that currently offer regulated U.S. online poker are ring-fenced (aka “intrastate”), and which are shared-liquidity (aka “interstate”)?
Pennsylvania online poker games are ring-fenced and restricted to within the commonwealth’s borders. Only PokerStars operates online poker in PA as of December 2019.
New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware are legally allowed to share cross-state liquidity/player pools. However, 888 Poker remains the only internet poker software component that has a meaningful presence within the statewide borders of NV and DE:
- New Jersey: PokerStars/Resorts – 888/Caesars/WSOP – partypoker/Borgata
- Nevada: 888/WSOP
- Delaware: 888/Harrington Raceway, Dover Downs, Delaware Park “racinos”
3. Is there any other pending statewide U.S. online poker legislation (aside from Michigan) that might pass in 2019?
No, there isn’t. But there are a number of states that could at the very least introduce some form of real money internet poker legislation in 2020.
4. What is the holdup for Pennsylvania and Michigan to compact with other states through an agreement such as MSIGA?
The federal government’s revised interpretation of the 1961 Wire Act. The new opinion states that the law’s scope of enforcement extends to all forms of cross-state internet betting operations (as opposed to just sports betting).
The DOJ Office of Legal Counsel opinion authored in November 2018 significantly dampens the outlook for additional cross-state online poker compacts in the immediate future. However, U.S. Code §1084(b) specifically exempts interstate commerce tied to online gambling from enforcement — if the transmission of information originates “from a State or foreign country where betting on that sporting event or contest is legal into a State or foreign country in which such betting is legal.”
5. Is there any recent “landmark” court ruling that could be perceived as favorable for regulated U.S. online poker in 2020? Similar to how the SCOTUS repeal of PASPA opened the way for legalized sports betting, which had been primarily restricted to Nevada?
Yes. In a June 2019 decision concerning the legality of interstate lotteries, U.S. District Court Judge Paul Barbadoro ruled that the Wire Act applies solely to sports gambling. However, months before issuing his ruling, the New Hampshire District Court judge hinted that the suit “is likely going to be resolved by the US Supreme Court either way.”
That forecast was seemingly validated in August 2019 when the Department of Justice announced its intent to appeal the decision.
6. For entertainment purposes only (but relying at least partially on your knowledge about the topic), how many compacted/shared liquidity U.S. jurisdictions do you predict will have launched real money games by 2025? Can you make an educated guess of which states while you’re at it?
10 STATES: NJ/NV/DE, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Michigan, Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, and New York.
This purely hypothetical shared liquidity regulated online poker market would encompass a total population of roughly 80 million Americans (of 329 million, so approximately 25 percent not counting iGaming tourism).
This would also heavily depend on the federal government at some point determining that legal cross-state online poker games are: (a) sufficiently in compliance with existing federal laws/guidelines concerning internet gambling, or (b) deemed lawful in a “landmark” ruling similar in quality to the May 2018 SCOTUS decision on sports betting.
7. How many online poker operators do you believe that wishful thinking 2025 scenario could support?
It will be interesting to see if U.S. state-sanctioned online poker regulations evolve over the next five years and more accurately define how internet peer-to-peer operators, networks, skins, and collaborators should divvy-up market share, while at the same time prioritizing the unique revenue needs of each state.
Ideally there would be two or three established regulated U.S. online poker operators that carry over from NJ/NV/DE/PA/WV/MI along with two or three more that would be entering newer statewide markets speculatively in anticipation of further growth beyond 2025. The “skins” debate is an entirely separate issue.
8. Do you foresee a scenario in which one or more states (even if they’re not included on the list) might resist linking to the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement in order to compete with those compacted states?
Most definitely California, which in May 2018 was recognized as the world’s 5th largest economy.
9. Are there any other extenuating circumstances that might hinder the spread of cross-state regulated U.S. online poker games in upcoming years?
Yes, there are. Regulated U.S. online poker faces steep challenges in the modern-day online gaming & entertainment space, particularly with the future widespread adoption of 5G technology.
Separately, the use of prohibited software in the form of Real Time Assistance (RTA) along with player collusion are issues that could potentially overwhelm competitive, fair-play elements of real money online poker games if proposed strict regulatory measures prove unsuccessful in adequately safeguarding consumers against said practices.
10. What are your predictions for regulated U.S. online poker in 2020?
- There will be no further cross-state shared liquidity without a formal clarification of federal law.
- The participation of New Jersey players in WSOP dot-com 2020 online bracelet events is confirmed.
- Statewide tax levies on regulated iGaming may force both industry and consumers to more critically examine any number of modern-day “poker business” realities.
* This article is directly funded by Part Time Poker.
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