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Imagine for a moment that a pageant was held to crown the next state to regulate online poker and gambling.

Each state – minus the three that have already crossed the threshold – would send a representative to the contest to answer questions on why their state might be next to enact legislation that would allow residents to legally play online poker and/or casino games. That would put 47 contestants on the stage, er, make that 46, as Utah would likely want no part of the competition and opt out.

States such as Hawaii, with no forms of legalized gambling, and South Carolina, where residents can only play the lottery, would not make it out of the first round. Stepping to the forefront would be the likes of Pennsylvania, New York and California, states where the respective legislatures have considered various forms of online poker and gambling legislation.

The judges of the pageant would weigh the pros and cons of each state’s chances and come up with a winner that would likely take the igaming legislation plunge in 2016. Of course, viewers at home watching on TV would choose their favorites for whatever reason, albeit without the benefit of a swimsuit competition or talent contest.

The Frontrunners

New York is in the midst of a land-based gambling expansion plan, one that many believe may be followed by Internet gaming regulation. An online poker hearing was held in September before the state’s Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee and chairman Sen. John Bonacic plans to push his proposal (S 5302) again next year.

California lawmakers have been debating the issue of regulated online poker for years. The state’s Indian tribes, card rooms, horse racing industry and PokerStars all want a piece of the pie, but nary a crumb will be had until they all learn to play nice and compromise. Progress was made in 2015, but was it enough for California to pass an ipoker bill in 2016?

Pennsylvania’s budget woes pushed igaming regulation to the forefront recently and the possibility of such legislation being approved looked somewhat promising just a couple of weeks ago. But the issue has once again been tabled for the time being, with 2016 seen as perhaps the year that Pennsylvania joins Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey.

And the Winner is…

Based on recent events and progress made in 2015, our pageant winner is ……. Pennsylvania! Place that crown atop the Keystone State and let’s all celebrate our new champion as the next likely state to pass online poker and gambling legislation!

But wait. Whoa, there’s been some kind of mistake! Here comes Steve Harvey to explain. As it turns out, Pennsylvania was supposed to be named runner-up, not the winner! How embarrassing! Remove the crown and snatch those roses! We need to fix this and declare the real winner!

miss universe oopsie

The crown and title of pageant champion actually goes to …… Massachusetts! Yes, that’s right! Massachusetts will be the next state to pass igaming regulation! Sorry, Pennsylvania. It was an honest mistake. And although you are very worthy of the crown, we have to do what’s right.

Preparations Underway

Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby recently stated that his office is currently compiling information regarding the issue of regulated online gambling and that the findings will be presented to the legislature next month. Being studied are not only online poker and casino games, but also daily fantasy sports and E-sports.

In other words, Massachusetts will consider regulating the whole kit and caboodle of online gambling in one fell swoop. An “omnibus regulatory bill” that may be the blueprint for other states to follow.

Many of us have been earnestly watching the igaming regulation progress in California, Pennsylvania and New York. And while any kind of progress is encouraging, at the end of the day, it’s always seemingly much of the same – nothing approved as of yet.

However, Massachusetts now steps into the picture with a grand plan that may blow past that of all the other states! And for that reason, the judges have to award the crown of pageant winner of the next regulated state to Massachusetts! Way to go, Bay State!


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Charles Rettmuller

Charles has been an avid poker player for a number of years, both live and online. He holds a degree in journalism and previously worked as a reporter for a Chicago-based newspaper. Charles joined the PokerUpdate team in early 2012 and writes daily news articles for the site.