States Likely to Move on Legalized Online Poker in 2016

US PokerAfter making no progress in 2015, legalized online poker in the US is given new life with the New Year

After an admittedly neutral 2015, US citizens are once again hopeful that this calendar year will bring about additional states where online poker is legal. Though there is no real, concrete reason to believe that any of these states will pass legislation allowing the free operation of online gaming, some states have proposed legislation that is now snaking its way through the massive quantities of red tape presented by the US government.

The first state that many people think may see intrastate poker come to life is [geolink href=””]California[/geolink]. Also a frontrunner in 2015, California has been pushing for legalized online poker for nearly a decade. The reason every piece of legislation from the early 2000’s to today has failed is due to the number of tribal casinos, card rooms, and racetracks who have teamed up against the idea of [geolink href=””]US online casinos[/geolink] being able to roam freely.

So long as anti-poker movements continue to falter as they did towards the end of 2015, there is a strong likelihood that the massive democratic presence in California may breed another intrastate system for online poker.

With all of the anti-online gaming legal action that has stemmed from the state, it may be hard to believe that New York is being touted as one of the other states that may legalize poker. A roadblock to New York establishing an intrastate system is the fact that brick and mortar casinos are thriving, and [geolink href=””]legislators may not be keen[/geolink] on trying their hand at something new so quickly.

Something that may force New York’s hand, so to speak, is [geolink href=””]if Pennsylvania legalizes online poker[/geolink]. PA is one of the states that was more or less expected to do exactly that during 2015, and once again is under the spotlight. If Pennsylvania does make this move, the fact that two of New York’s neighbors (PA and NJ) have legalized intrastate systems may push New York to follow suit. Unfortunately, the killing blow to poker in New York could be the fact that the currently proposed model would be for poker only. While most other states are lumping legalized poker with other casino games, New York is thus far not willing to do that. The minimal amount of tax revenue that would be derived from a poker-only system is something that may not convince lawmakers to vote in favor of pro-poker legislation.

The last state that is determined to be somewhat likely to create an intrastate gambling system is [geolink href=””]Massachusetts[/geolink]. Similar to New York, Massachusetts is in the midst of vastly [geolink href=””]expanding the presence of brick and mortar casinos[/geolink] in the state; something that is indicative of a more liberal state government.

Something that threatens poker in Massachusetts is the fact that Steve Wynn, brick and mortar casino mogul, owns one of three existing brick and mortar establishments. Wynn is a known critic of online gambling, so there is no doubting that he would fight any and all legislation. The one saving grace, however, is the Massachusetts’ Gaming Commission’s quick-acting nature. Having helped establish gambling of all sorts across the state in a relatively short amount of time, this organization may be the key to legalized online poker in Massachusetts.

Finally, another, albeit sneaky way online poker may become a reality in Massachusetts is if it piggy-backs along another, larger bill. This is a very real possibility, but one that is difficult to put much weight in due to its unpredictable nature.

Though it is very much unclear what, if any, states may legalize online poker in 2016, there is no denying that this year will be an exciting one for online poker legislation on both a state and federal level. Remember, with this being Barack Obama’s last year as president of the United States, many are viewing it as the last year during which legalized online gaming may be a possibility.

Jacqueline Packett
Jacqueline Packett