Like in 2016, most believe that Pennsylvania is the state most likely to regulate online poker this year. Let’s assume that lawmakers come through and this time gets a bill passed. What then? How will this impact the rest of the nation?
Before you start celebrating the possible return of online poker throughout American, take a step back and think things through reasonably. While we all would like a “best case scenario,” there are too many things at work that will likely prevent such.
Here are three possible scenarios should Pennsylvania regulate online gambling in 2017.
Scenario One – Pennsylvania Sparks Legislative Boom
The first scenario, and the one that most online poker fans would prefer, is that passage if iGaming in Pennsylvania sparks an legislative boom that results in three to fives states regulating the game in the next two years.
This push could be expedited should PokerStars decide to form their own interstate online poker network with New Jersey. At present, NJ has stayed out of the NV-DE interstate network and one has to wonder if there is any benefit for them to join it.
However, should PA come online, that changes things. A PokerStars NJ/PA network would be instantly attractive to other states considering the same. Surrounding states would certainly start examining the issue with more earnest in order to slow the bleeding from citizens hopping over the border to gamble online.
An interstate network anchored by PokerStars would be attractive to most states and could be the piece of the puzzle that helps some lawmakers get off the fence.
Scenario Two – States Wait to See What Trump Administration Pulls
The second scenario and the one I personally expect to be reality this year, is that some states will sit back and see what the Trump administration does regarding online gambling and the Wire Act.
Vice-President Mike Pence and Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions are both opponents to online gambling and Sessions has indicated a willingness to revisit the Wire Act opinion issued in 2011. He hasn’t outright said that he will overturn the memo, but some are fearful of that outcome.
In addition, it’s no secret that Sheldon Adelson was a significant contributor to President Trump’s campaign. One can assume that Adelson will call in a favor at some point to the President and try and get online gambling banned or at least crippled in some fashion.
Knowing that these are possible scenarios, it is entirely possible that lawmakers hold off on regulating iGaming this year. This could even be the case in states that have already filed bills or are considering them.
Scenario Three – Pennsylvania Passes Bill and Not Much Else Happens – For Now
The other possible scenario is that Pennsylvania becomes the fourth state to regulate iGaming and little else happens this year. While this isn’t the result that most of you want to hear, there is little to suggest that anything else will happen.
Word coming out of California is that parties are still miles apart regarding a consensus and with PokerStars now being seen as obstructionist, things will have to change significantly and quickly before California has even a slight chance of passing a bill this year.
The only state besides Pennsylvania with a legit shot of passing an iGaming bill this year is New York. A bill surprisingly went through the Senate last year but then completely died.
A lot seems to ride on whether Rep. J. Garry Pretlow will push the bill through the Assembly. While he told Gambling Compliance recently that some of his concerns have been addressed regarding security, that doesn’t equal his full support.
While some of you would like the “glass is full” view regarding regulation in 2017, at present there’s not enough to support that optimism. Should PA come through and pass legislation, we should take that as a win and hope that other possible concerns and scenarios are resolved by 2018 so that iGaming can march forward.