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By all estimates and calculations, it seems that 2016 will be a formative year for online gambling legislation in the United States. With Pennsylvania on the verge of passing a well-received bill to regulate online gambling and California legislators putting forth good-faith efforts only days into the new year, either or both of those states could lead a snowball effect of pro-online poker and gambling laws in various states.

The positivity is not without its background of failed efforts and dashed hopes, though. Since New Jersey followed Nevada and Delaware into the industry several years ago, legislation in numerous states has given hope for poker fans and then snatched it away.

How can states avoid some of that pain and push forward with successful pro-Internet gambling bills in 2016?

Partner with Gaming Entities

working together

States with land-based casinos can form partnerships that will push for online gambling legislation. There are numerous benefits for brick-and-mortar properties taking their brands online, such as reaching out to a younger demographic, growing brand familiarity, and using cross promotions to bring more gamblers to the establishments.

Lotteries can also be powerful partners. Most lottery officials see the benefits of expanding lottery ticket sales to the Internet, and working with online gambling proponents to draw more gamblers to that space is beneficial for both parties.

Find Common Ground with Special Interests

In nearly every state, there are special interests that will support and oppose online gambling. The ability to work out those differences and find common ground before a bill is introduced or brought to committee will save embarrassing and complicated problems in a public forum.

In California, one of the largest hurdles for online poker has been the inability to find common ground with race tracks and horseracing organizations. The fight is now a very public one and will inevitably leave one or more groups without satisfaction when a bill does make progress.

Use Revenue Projections

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Engage with experts to obtain revenue projections for online poker or gambling in the state. Nearly every state in America currently struggles with budget shortfalls and revenue deficits, no matter how seemingly insignificant. The online gambling industry doesn’t even require much investment for a launch, as sizeable licensing fees will be paid by several companies looking to establish ground-floor presence in a new state.

New Jersey is an example of a successful online gambling endeavor that has overcome difficulties and set a worthy standard for other states. By combining expert projections with the few years of history of a state like New Jersey, the stage will be set for a new revenue source, the addition of jobs, and an overall boost for the state’s economy – all in the package of one piece of legislation.

Gather Proponents and Facts

The Poker Players Alliance is the best resource for facts about online poker. The well-established and respected PPA can help any legislator gather facts supporting the industry, such as proven methods to prevent underage and problem gambling, and geolocation technology to restrict customers to within a state’s borders. Companies that provide those services can also offer information helpful to garnering support for regulating online gambling.

John Pappas / Poker Players Alliance

The facts, whether presented at a hearing or in the bill itself, are positive ways to prevent contentious committee hearings and cut opponents off at the pass. When a legislator and online gambling interests move the conversation forward with inarguable information, those who are undecided about the issue are more likely to be supportive instead of confused and skeptical.


In most states that have considered online gambling legislation to date, the process has been more of a fight than a movement. Bills are introduced without sufficient pro-gambling facts, and there is no public information presentation to garner support from the start.

Those prepared to push strongly for online gambling legislation must take the lead. The partners need to stand together and be prepared to share in the effort of a proactive push. The facts need to be shown clearly, heading off opponents before they gain traction with their arguments. Engaging with the PPA to garner widespread support and spearhead the campaign with legislators brings years of experience and organization to the mix.

It can be done. New Jersey can be used as an example of a successful and growing industry. States must be made to see that online gambling is the future of the gaming industry, and being at the forefront of it will provide numerous short- and long-term benefits.


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Jennifer Newell

Jennifer has been a freelance writer in the poker industry for a decade. She left a full-time job with the World Poker Tour to tell the stories of poker. She now lives in St. Louis, writes about poker while pursuing other varied interests, and speaks her mind on Twitter… a lot.