2015 Was An Uneventful Year for Poker Legislation

US PokerThe push to legalize online poker did not make much headway during 2015, but many are wondering if this is such a bad thing.

Another year passes and we have yet one more year where online poker was no closer to being legally allowed under United States federal law. What’s more, even the progress made by individual states was somewhat disappointing. Pennsylvania and California, two states that were somewhat expected to have intrastate online poker by year’s end, saw bill after bill fail to be signed into law for some reason or another. While some bills made their way in front of lawmakers, others crashed and burned far before that point. On the surface, these past 12 months seem like a pretty dismal year for online poker legislation in the United States, but not everyone agrees that this is such a bad thing.

The reason most people are not looking down on this past year is due to the fact that anti-poker legislation made just as little progress as pro-poker bills. Sheldon Adelson, Las Vegas casino billionaire, was at the forefront of a bill that would ban poker on a federal level, but that bill barely even saw the light of day. This bill is still potentially going to be signed into law, but it has almost no support from legislators that are not Republicans. In fact, only one single Democrat has come out in support of this bill.

So, as you can see, this past year was a win for online poker more because it was not federally banned rather than because online poker inched any closer to being legalized. The Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling is another product of Adelson and is aimed at putting commercials on TV and billboards along highways in order to convince people that internet gambling, specifically poker, is an inherently bad thing. Advertising how easily one can lose a plethora of money, the coalition has done a good job of drumming up support for anti-gaming laws. Of course, like so many other advertisements, those of the coalition’s thrive by using half-truths and vague language to talk about the inherent dangers of gambling.

US Poker in 2016

All in all, this year was a miss for online poker legislation, but is not being looked at as a loss. There are still some very good [geolink href=”https://www.usafriendlypokersites.com”]US Poker sites in [getYear][/geolink] where you can play. As we look ahead to 2016, it will be interesting to see if pro-poker legislation gains any sort of foothold. People are looking at 2016 as the last year for poker legislation to make its way through the legislative system simply due to the fact that Barack Obama is in his last year as President of the United States. If a Republican takes hold of the White House, the overriding fear is that any sort of pro-gambling bill will be shot down before it has a chance to make any progress. As is clearly seen in the support of RAWA (the anti gambling bill that has failed to find its way in front of Congress), Republicans are generally opposed to any sort of legalized gambling.

Even in states like New Jersey where intrastate gambling has already been established, there are very outspoken opponents constantly working to get this poker system eliminated. If a bill like RAWA is passed, not only would it prevent other states from acquiring their own online poker systems, it would strip states like New Jersey of their pre-existing gaming establishments. For me, it is amazing that this issue is such a hard-fought one. With states all over the country suffering financially, you would think that the tax money derived from legalized online gaming would be a welcomed relief. California, which has performed fairly poorly from an economic standpoint in the past few years, is a perfect example. With the money created by legalized gaming, the state’s annual budget deficit may finally turn into a budget surplus. Unfortunately, most lawmakers are not looking at it this way, and until they do most bills will continue to crash and burn.

Jacqueline Packett
Jacqueline Packett