As of the New Year, there is still no legal framework in place for online poker games in California, New York, or Pennsylvania. Discussions in the Golden State were tabled until later in 2016, but a few grassroots movements and developments around the country are shaping up to potentially have an impact on the legality of online poker.
The main argument that online gambling would provide state revenue is one of the more likely to make an impact, but opponents argue the poker industry wouldn’t create as much of an economic boon as promoters suggest. In efforts to bolster the argument, those in favor of legalization will keep a close eye on New Jersey – the most recent state to legalize online poker.
ABC News recently reported that November was the most lucrative month on record for the online gambling industry in New Jersey, bringing in more than $13 million. PokerStars, the largest online gaming site, is expected to launch in Jersey in early 2016. Supporters believe it is the inclusion of PokerStars in the California gaming market that will make all the difference in terms of revenue.
While at first glance the future appears bright for the online poker industry, there has also been a new push to ban online poker at a federal level. Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate responsible for the Venetian in Las Vegas, is leading the charge on the ban. Adelson says he is against online gambling on moral grounds and is actively lobbying in California to prevent its legalization.
The House of Representatives recently held a hearing on online gambling, with Utah republican Jason Chaffetz arguing that legalization has the potential to turn every smartphone into a casino. He also says there is no way to stop computer-savvy players from bypassing location software, allowing players to play from states where online poker is illegal. This, among other reasons, was cited in the argument to ban poker websites nation wide.
The California State Assembly is set to take up the issue of online poker again this year, with democrat Adam Gray leading the push for legalization.
(Photo credit: Patrick Nouhailler, Creative Commons.)
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