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Will Any States Enact Online Poker Regulations in 2015?

After three states launched online poker and gambling regimes in 2013, there was hope that 2014 would see more state legislatures join the igaming party. With only one week left before 2015 arrives, those hopes have been dashed and the party has fizzled.

With a new year on the horizon, hope is renewed that 2015 will see at least one state join Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey in enacting Internet poker regulations. If the projections released earlier this year by the finance wizards at Morgan Stanley hold true, California will finally push through an online poker scheme that the state’s gaming interests can agree on, or at least live with.

Remember that study in September that anticipates 20 states to be operating regulated online gambling sites by 2020? Unfortunately, Morgan Stanley prognosticators find California to be the only state to climb on board next year, with a launch not happening until 2016.

Should that prediction hold true, that would mean that two calendar years will have passed without a regulated launch after Nevada broke the ice in April 2013 and the other two states followed in November of the same year. Two years.

Go Cubs

Talk about moving slow. The Chicago Cubs might win the World Series before online poker players in another state are playing legally. Recent odds at Bovada of the Cubbies breaking their more than century-long drought in 2015 are a mere 12-1, trailing only the Dodgers (7.5-1), Red Sox (9-1), Angels and Nationals (both at 10-1).

Perhaps if Morgan Stanley revised their study to take into account what has happened in the past three months, their projections would look different. Especially after seeing the first online poker pitch of 2015 thrown by California Assemblyman Mike Gatto.

Gatto’s AB 9 introduced earlier this month was viewed by many as the same old song and dance as past ipoker proposals in the Golden State. The coalition that includes PokerStars — which gained strength two months ago when the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians joined the alliance — called Gatto’s bill “a rehash of previously unsuccessful proposals.”

Morgan Stanley also expects PokerStars’ entry into the New Jersey market to have a huge impact on revenue. But that prediction was made shortly after the $4.9 billion purchase of Rational Group assets by Amaya when everybody was giddy with delight, anticipating that the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement would quickly give Amaya rubber-stamped igaming approval.

That approval has yet to come, and instead came an investigation into possible trading irregularities of Amaya stock prior to the purchase. What say you now Morgan Stanley?

Not to say that PokerStars in New Jersey won’t happen. Just sayin’ that the online poker regulation picture in the U.S. looks somewhat different now than it did in September when the study was released and predictions made. And it didn’t look all that great then considering that no new online poker launches by any states are foreseen in 2015 by Morgan Stanley.

So what can we expect in 2015? It’s anybody’s guess, really. But when bookmakers like the Cubs chances to finally go all the way before another state launches legal Internet poker, the immediate future does not look too bright for the expansion of regulated online poker in the U.S.



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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.