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Poker Industry Update – United States

The United States poker industry has been in a transition stage since Black Friday 2011, with online card rooms and casinos jockeying for position in what has become an extremely competitive marketplace due to sporadic statewide regulation.

Although the game of poker has experienced a steady downtrend in recent years, there are numerous current events that could greatly impact the American marketplace in 2018.

With that in mind, we have compiled 5 U.S. Poker Industry News Topics that will be of interest to American players throughout the country.

Poker Industry Update #5: Regulated New York Online Poker

There is developing news for regulated online poker in the Empire State. According to New York lawmaker Clyde Vanel, NY Assembly Bill 5250 has a “good shot” at being approved by the state legislature in 2018.

The proposed law would provide a “skill-based” carve out for the game of poker, and allow it to be offered for real money online by as many as 11 land-based New York casino license holders. NY A5250 would also define poker as a game that falls “outside the general definition of gambling,” while potentially blocking the world’s largest poker site (PokerStars) from entering the Empire State market altogether.

In a recent interview with Online Poker Report, State Assemblyman Vanel said that he will “whip the votes” between now and June 2018, and invites grassroots feedback from New York online poker players who would like to engage on the topic with their corresponding NY Assembly Members.

The constituent-lobbying approach is a departure from traditional consumer outreach that was once spearheaded by the Poker Players Alliance, and encourages poker activists in New York to communicate directly with lawmakers.

Those who would like to find out more about NY A5250 can do so by reading this New York Online Poker FAQs article courtesy of Part Time Poker.

Poker Industry Update #4: Live Poker Room Revenue Concerns

Live casinos in the northeastern United States are currently going through a transitional period of their own following a widespread gambling expansion enacted by Pennsylvania lawmakers. This along with a “manifest destiny” attitude toward casino proliferation by some proponents could result in a significant increase in brick & mortar gambling destinations throughout the surrounding region.

Commercial gambling establishments in the U.S. are facing stiff competition from tribal casinos (which are federally regulated organizations who then compact with statewide lawmakers). This and other factors have led two New York casinos to petition the government for financial assistance.

Existing pressures on land-based casinos in the northeastern U.S. could spell trouble for poker games at smaller venues, as peer-to-peer competition typically brings in far less revenue for operators compared to slot machine terminals and house-edge table game formats.

Full-time professional poker players who derive most of their income from live games are advised to evaluate Pennsylvania poker rooms and all land-based casinos on a case-by-case basis to remain informed on which venues offer the most recreational-friendly games and advantageous rewards mechanisms.

Poker Industry Update #3: Is Poker Destined for a Comeback?

Mason Malmuth Poker Industry

Mason Malmuth with Doug Polk (Upswing Poker WSOP Party)

There’s been some interesting news in 2018 concerning a potential resurrection of poker on a global basis.

According to Two Plus Two Magazine publisher Mason Malmuth, improving economic factors worldwide might lead to a resurgence of the game we all love. “Games will get better and better” as a result, states Malmuth.

However, the 2+2 forum Top Dog also reminds readers that higher rake remains a concern. Poker sites aren’t the only operators who have been increasing the cost of poker. Rake caps for small stakes games in Sin City have gone up from $2 to $5 in many cases, and recreational players are often charged as much as $25/hour to enjoy poker in certain casinos outside of Las Vegas, reminds the former U.S. Census Bureau statistician.

Still, an improved economy does provide gamblers with more disposable income — so poker pros should be on the lookout for more profit-based opportunities as they arise.

Poker Industry Update #2: Legalized Sports Betting

What in the world would “legalized sports betting” have to do with the poker industry?

For one, industry stakeholders used to spend their Sunday nights/Monday mornings viewing online poker tournament final tables — but now that activity has been replaced by sleepless nights pondering when the United States Supreme Court will issue a ruling on PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) sports betting prohibitions.

And while it’s true that legalized sports wagers outside of Nevada would significantly impact the U.S. online gambling market, friction still remains among iGaming lobbyists and the American Gaming Association — despite the AGA having recently added The Stars Group, GVC Holdings and other online poker service providers to its Board roster.

Making real money wagers on sports is a gambling activity that isn’t shunned by poker players like traditional casino games sometimes are, but iGaming may be left holding the bag even if  the upcoming SCOTUS ruling is favorable to legalized sports betting fans.

Poker Industry Update #1: Pennsylvania Online Poker Games

There’s extremely positive news on the horizon for online poker players in the Keystone State.

Online poker games in Pennsylvania are expected to “go live” in 2018. Several land-based casinos are preparing to partner-up with sites like PartyPoker, Betfair, 888 Poker and PokerStars to create a statewide market that could compact with New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware to form a combined player pool in four U.S. states.

Momentum for skill-based, competitive poker games exists both live and online, yet it will be up to operators to create an environment in which players are encouraged to participate in these games (as opposed to lottery-style gimmicks that have dominated the scene for years).

Our readers who would like to learn more about regulated online poker can check out our U.S. Online Poker Sites Guide here at Upswing Poker.

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About the Author
David Huber

David Huber

David Huber (known as "dhubermex" online) has been involved in the poker industry for more than a decade. He currently assists several poker and gaming entities as a researcher, writer, and consultant. Former Editor-in-Chief & Head Moderator of online tournament rankings site PocketFives (2006-2011).

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