The good thing about the state of US online poker is that it really can’t get any worse. Sure, there is the bright spot of Nevada online poker, which should be coming online in the next few months. But Nevada is less than 1% of the total US population. Getting excited about just poker in Nevada is like getting excited about legalized online poker in Finland.
There’s a few potential big developments coming soon that could really help the industry.
The grandaddy of them all has some potential. Two key Republican senators, Senator Kyl (the original anti-online gambling crusader turned ‘poker is okay if we crack down on the others guy) and Senator Heller (from Nevada), confirmed that they believe they have enough Republican senate votes to get pro-online poker legislation passed if it is attached on to something else. Of course, there needs to be something to attach it to, like the UIGEA was attached to the SAFE Ports Act. The PPA has been quoted that they aren’t terribly optimistic that there is a piece of legislation that can work (any sort of fiscal cliff bill is likely off limits) and the partisan divide is so tough that getting anything through seems to be a stretch.
But hey, there’s two ways to look at that. One is that since the PPA is always optimistic, the fact that they’re pessimistic means we shouldn’t really hold out much hope for anything soon. The other way to look at it is that since the PPA is generally wrong, maybe they’re wrong about being pessimistic and something actually will happen.
A bill legalizing poker in California will be introduced next week. This bill has a very good shot at getting through since the pesky Indian tribes that have slowed things down in the past seem to not be a problem anymore. California already has legal brick and mortar poker, a major budget deficit, a huge population base, and a general liberal stance towards the Internet and poker. If we get legal online poker in California, then that will be huge.
Not only is the raw size of California important for the poker world, it’s likely other states will copy what California does. Nevada is viewed as some degenerate gambling state by most, so just because they pass something, it doesn’t mean other states will copy. On the other hand, California is often a model. After all, everything ‘cool’ seems to start out in California whether conservatives like it or not. If this can get passed, even if the federal bill fails, this will be huge for the poker industry in my opinion.
New Jersey acted like they were going to get legal online poker done before Nevada. They didn’t. But now they’re going to try again anyways.
A bill recently passed in the New Jersey committee and should see both New Jersey House and Senate action by Christmas. It remains to be seen whether Chris Christie would veto this bill or not. He may have his sights set on the GOP nomination for presidency and may wish to cater to the base, but look at what catering to the base ultimately did to Romney’s presidential bid. Sort-of-but-not-really close, definitely no cigar in the general election.
New Jersey is somewhere in between Nevada and California in terms of importance. It’s bigger than Nevada but still has that ‘gambling degenerate’ state label as viewed by other states. PokerStars seems to think New Jersey is important enough that they may buy a land based casino there so they’ll be eligible to offer online poker in the state.