The US online poker industry continues to go through changes, with slow-moving regulation at the forefront of those changes.
After three states launched legal Internet poker and gambling sites in 2013, none did in 2014. Players in the U.S. who hope that regulated online poker comes to their home states are seemingly in for a long wait.
With 2014 ready to make its exit and 2015 less than a week away, we took a look at what the future holds for U.S. online poker in 2015. It’s a future that is uncertain in terms of the progression of regulation, but is reasonably certain in other areas.
California the State to Watch in 2015
All signs point to California being the next state most likely to approve online poker legislation. A half-decade of trying in the form of proposed bills will find the new year usher in more of the same.
If anything, California is certainly the most serious state about considering Internet poker regulations. But there is a large gap between consideration and approval, especially in a state so large in size that promises a quite lucrative online poker regime whenever a launch finally does takes place.
Will 2015 be the year that regulation happens in the Golden State? Although strides have been made recently by the gaming interests involved, major sticking points remain regarding the inclusion (or exclusion) of PokerStars and racetracks.
Unfortunately, the first bill proposed in California for the 2015 legislative session by Assemblyman Mike Gatto appears to be a retread of prior proposals. More will be known in terms of California’s chances in 2015 when the expected bill of Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer is introduced.
Other States in the Spotlight
Pennsylvania is the next most serious state with regard to enacting online poker legislation. An in-depth online gambling study was released during a hearing held in 2014 that shows Pennsylvania to have progressed quite far in advancing legislation.
However, the lackluster revenue totals seen in the three regulated states in 2014 may have dampened the spirits of Pennsylvania lawmakers. Revenue expectations have missed the mark in Nevada and New Jersey, which may cause the Keystone State to remain on the rail longer than they would have if the revenue totals had been more reassuring.
A dark horse in the race for the next state to embrace regulation may be New York. The Empire State recently approved three bids for land-based casinos to be built and open to gamblers within 18 months.
Two online poker bills were introduced in New York in 2014, although neither gained any traction. Now that bricks and mortar gaming expansion is taking shape, expect New York legislators to take any 2015 online poker proposals a bit more seriously.
Offshore Poker Sites will Continue to Flourish
While U.S. online poker regulation under a state-by-state scheme plods slowly along, poker sites that currently cater to U.S. players are expected to continue to provide plenty of exciting action and bonuses for players. Carbon Poker, Americas Cardroom, Full Flush Poker, Bovada and Black Chip Poker are all excellent choices for players within the U.S. in the year ahead.
And that will likely be the case beyond 2015 as well. It is plain to see that regulation is moving at a glacial speed. The outlook for 2015 appears to be almost a repeat of 2014, with just a few states toying with the idea of regulation.
So U.S. players who enjoy playing at the sites mentioned above can continue to do so next year. And for many, that will be a Happy New Year, indeed.