Online poker in the United States has been at a crossroads for a few years. The majority of online poker sites in the United States are operating outside of the law or unregulated as we refer to it. This means that online poker players are risking their bankrolls every time they play on these sites.
Regulated online poker helps to protect player rights by providing a safe environment where they can play poker and be guaranteed to be paid when they cash out. Presently, only three states in the United States offer regulated online poker. Today we look at which poker sites accept US players legally and why regulation is important.
Nevada – WSOP Only? Get Real!
If you’re looking to play online poker in Nevada, your main option will be WSOP.com. WSOP NV was not the first online poker site to launch in the state but it quickly became the largest after launching.
With their connection with the World Series of Poker, WSOP NV enjoys the benefits of name branding. Also, players enjoy complete integration with the website during the annual WSOP.
Players can earn their way into WSOP events through online satellites and take part of the increased cash game action. The WSOP allows their players to participate in games on WSOP NV while playing at the Rio, also helping to bolster traffic in the summer months.
With the closing of Ultimate Poker in 2014, many believe that WSOP NV is the only place to play. To those players we say – Get Real! Real Gaming is the only other online poker site currently available to Nevada residents.
Offered through South Point Hotel & Casino, Real Gaming hosts a much smaller player pool but looks forward to great things in the future.
In terms of traffic, WSOP NV dominates the state with an average of 150 cash game players daily and 300 during peak hours. They also share their pool of players with Delaware Poker but that sharing has resulted in a minimal bump in traffic to the site.
Real Gaming is much smaller in terms of traffic, barely registering 10 cash game players during peak hours. We expect this number to grow as online poker grows in the United States.
New Jersey – Leading the Way for Online Poker
New Jersey is presently the largest regulated online poker market in the United States. They presently offer four online poker and two shared player pools. New Jersey requires online poker sites partner with an Atlantic City casino, providing an extra layer of security to player.
The four sites presently running in New Jersey:
- WSOP NJ
- 888 Poker NJ
- PartyPoker NJ
- Borgata Poker
WSOP NJ and 888 Poker NJ presently share player pools and lead the state in terms of traffic. They average 160 cash players daily with a peak of 352. Borgata Poker and PartyPoker NJ also share pools and average 120 cash players daily with a peak of 269.
New Jersey leads the way in terms of revenue and traffic, currently averaging around $1.9 million a month in combined earnings. This market is expected to shoot higher once PokerStars is approved for a license. Amaya Inc. is presently awaiting a decision from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement on their application to operate in the state.
Delaware – Online Poker is Off to the Races
The Delaware Lottery offers online poker in Delaware through the three racinos in the state. For those unfamiliar with the term racino, they are essentially a horse racing track that also offers casino games. The three racinos in Delaware are Dover Downs, Delaware Park and Harrington Raceway.
In terms of online poker, Delaware has a single online provider that serves all three racinos. Delaware uses 888 Holdings to offer their iPoker client through all three racinos. This makes it easy to service all three sites and provided a way for the state to form the first interstate compact with Nevada.
Delaware presently shares player pools with WSOP NV. The only things they don’t share are promotional games tied to the World Series of Poker. PokerScout lists Delaware Poker traffic the same as WSOP NV but in reality, they contribute a small portion of that traffic.
Why Does Regulation Matter?
Looking at figures from PokerScout, there are tens of thousands of U.S. players risking their bankrolls daily on unregulated online poker sites. For those of you wondering what the big deal is with regulation, let’s look back at online poker’s past in the United States.
There have been numerous instances in the Unites States where unregulated online poker sites have either shut down or been forced to close and players have been swindled out of their funds.
The most recent being when Lock Poker closed their doors. When Lock Poker went out of business, they left players holding the bag at the tune of $24 million. U.S. players have zero recourse in this matter because Lock Poker was unregulated.
Let’s also look back at Black Friday. Full Tilt Poker squandered nearly $400 million in player funds worldwide and DID NOT REPAY THEIR CUSTOMERS. We capitalized that on purpose because the funds that former players received came from PokerStars, not Full Tilt.
Full Tilt never repaid their customers and the only reason they were paid was due to a deal that PokerStars made with the U.S. Department of Justice to avoid prosecution and to purchase Full Tilt.
Let’s also not forget that both Absolute Poker and UB.com went bankrupt following Black Friday and players again lost millions worldwide. They didn’t have a PokerStars to bail them out.
If any of these sites were regulated in the United States, players would not have lost their funds. Regulation protects players first by ensuring that player funds are segregated from operator funds and available whenever players wish to cash out.
Next, operators are held to the same standards as live casinos and this includes the right for players to enter into arbitration with the regulator against the casino. Finally, regulation requires that casinos uphold certain technological principles and provide complete tracking of players and their locations. This prevents underage gambling and ensures only players in regulated states have access online poker.
Poker players are not supposed to be gamblers but that is what they are doing every time they play on an unregulated site. If you like to gamble with your money, we recommend going into a live casino and playing Blackjack or Video Poker. If you want to play online poker, do so in a regulated state.