Predictions of a “domino effect” in 2014 were rampant, as states struggling with revenue shortfalls were expected to embrace Internet poker and gambling legislation in order to provide a new source of funds via regulation and taxation. The new year has now passed the halfway mark and not one state has joined the first three in the online poker party, leaving the dominoes standing.
The reasons for the delay in the anticipated U.S. online “poker boom” are many, with disappointing revenue numbers coming from the three regulated states perhaps the biggest reason of them all. The result has prompted some states to take a “wait and see” approach, hoping that in time the potential for success will become clearer in the process.
Also a factor in the delay of the spread of ipoker regulation throughout the U.S. is the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling. The efforts of Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson have played a part, as officials from states considering online gambling have taken pause to wonder if federal lawmakers will be influenced by the billionaire casino mogul and his money.
Adelson’s view is that online gambling is a pox on society and will corrupt youth in ways that his casinos somehow will not. His stance, although often cited by igaming proponents as misguided, hypocritical, and out-of-touch with the times in failing to embrace technological advancements such as the Internet, has helped to delay progress.
But progress delayed is not progress denied. Both Pennsylvania and California have taken huge steps in 2014 toward passing online poker legislation. Both remain quite a distance from the finish line at present, but are closer than ever before.
The odds are that 2014 will pass without another state rolling out an online poker scheme. Back in November, those odds appeared quite different. Many would have bet that at least one or two states would have joined Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey this year.
The key to more rapid ipoker expansion in the U.S. is likely California. As the country’s most populous state, and despite the fact that its Internet poker scheme is destined to be intrastate only, other states may be more willing to take the plunge once the Golden State does so.
Still to be hashed out in California are the differences among Indian tribes, mainly the one that finds PokerStars in bed with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and three prominent card clubs. It’s not yet clear how that issue will be resolved, but the encouraging word from the latest online gambling hearing held in the state was that the approval of Internet poker legislation is more a matter of “when” than “if.”
The U.S. online poker boom that many had envisioned about eight months ago when Delaware and New Jersey began launching may yet come to fruition. It has been delayed and progress is turning out to be much slower than online poker players in the U.S. would have liked. But when California eventually overcomes its hurdles and passes Internet poker regulations, the dominoes may fall after all.