Ever since the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was introduced in the USA in 2006, the situation for American poker players has been challenging. Everyone thought it was bound to change as the US poker market is too big to stay completely shut down.
It took some time, but there are finally some steps in this direction in the past few years.
Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada already made online poker legal and some operators launched their platforms there. There are discussions in some of the other states and it seems more could follow soon.
First Steps For New York Online Poker Happened in 2015
New York is one of them as there was an attempt to legalize online gambling last year that, unfortunately, was unsuccessful.
There was a bill by assemblyman Garry Pretlow and Senator Bonacic and it was presented at a hearing in early September, but it didn’t lead to voting. Despite that, there were some positive signs overall as most opinions were favorable to online gambling.
The biggest issue seemed to be the desire to regulate brick-and-mortar casinos first. Research shows that citizens of the Empire State spent about $1.5 billion in casinos and roughly 2/3 of it was outside the state in 2015.
Understandably, bringing that huge business inside New York is the top priority of the local authorities. There were steps in this direction last year when three licenses were given to casino developers. This means there are now nine racetrack and five tribal casinos in total in New York.
Many specialists from the online gambling industry tried to convince the authorities that online gambling has a different audience at the hearing. Stats show that the majority of the people involved in such games on the web have not visited Atlantic City. The main reason is that online gambling is a much cheaper and easier solution for the customers.
Another strong argument in favor was that currently online play could be monitored easily. This way problem gambling could be controlled and taken care of much more effectively that in brick-and-mortar casinos.
Despite the testimonials of many people in the industry that both should be examined separately, the state stayed firm in its desire to handle physical casinos first.
Assemblyman Garry Pretlow and Senator Bonacic don’t want to give up any time soon. The two are planning to introduce their legislation plan again in 2016 and are hoping for a different outcome this time around. Both men are in the top management of gaming and racing committees.
Estimates suggest that online poker alone could generate $120 million in revenues the first year after legislation. Among the states considering more liberal laws for gambling on the web, this is the second largest potential market only behind California. These numbers, however, are highly dependent on liquidity. The hopes are New York citizens would be able to play with residents of other states once a bill is accepted.
It is hard to say for sure if New York will legalize online gambling this year, but there are many positive signs. This guarantees that the main goal will be reached sooner or later. Other states are also heading in this direction and, at least, the matter is being discussed openly with the industry actively involved.
Online poker is making baby steps in the USA, but there is an obvious progress. We hope that soon most states will have a reasonable legislation and Americans will be able to play against each other and, at some point in the near future, against opponents from all over the world.
I’m Matt “Checkmate” Colletta. I’ve been playing poker professionally since about 2004.
As one of the poker pros on UpswingPoker.com, my goal here is to help transform at least one hobbyist poker player into a self made millionaire.