United States Poker / Gambling Laws

We’ve been talking about legalizing online poker in the US for several years now. There has just been so many challenges.

At first everyone assumed online poker was illegal along with sportsbetting because of the Wire Act.

But after Black Friday the Department of Justice had their lawyers go over the bill. They came to the conclusion that they were wrong all along, and that the Wire Act didn’t include poker. So they made the decision to let each state determine for themselves what’s legal and what’s not.

That’s not all. Each state that’s considering legislation has to figure out how to combat fraud, keep people safe, and how to actually make money on a state-by-state basis when many states don’t have the numbers to sustain online poker in the long term.

Then you have states, like California, that want to legalize online poker, but they’re spending all their time arguing about what language to use. The biggest of which is whether to include a bad actors clause. Many tribes want one so that companies like PokerStars can’t get licensed and reenter the market.

But things are still in the early stages. We’ve seen several states pass legislation already, and several more are trying. It’s going to be a few years yet before we see major traction, but we’re definitely on our way to a regulated and legal online market in the United States.

States That Have Passed Legislation / Laws For Legalized Online Gambling

It’s now possible to gamble online for real money in the following states.

California – Okay, you can’t gamble online here yet. The biggest obstacle has been themselves – they haven’t been able to come to an agreement as to what to include in their bill – for years. They did come to an agreement though, albeit too late in 2014 to pass anything. We’ll have to wait until 2019 to see what California does. We include them on this list for two reasons – one, because they will pass legislation, it’s just a matter of when. And two, when they do they’ll be the largest state to do so.

Delaware – They were the first state to pass online gambling in the USA. They were the 2nd to launch. The biggest problem they face now is their lack of traffic. With only 1 million residents there’s no way they could sustain online gaming in the long term. That’s why they’re open to partnering with other states. And they already have – they partnered with Nevada in February 2014, with a plan to launch their intrastate poker site in late summer.

New Jersey – NJ passed their legislation in early 2013, and launched their set of sites the following November. Because they’re the largest site so far, everyone is watching them to see how well they do. Although they’ve failed to meet their estimated revenue for the first fiscal year, they still managed to post consistent growth month over month since. They were also the first state to reintroduce Skrill, and now they’re trying to license PayPal.

Nevada – Nevada passed legislation in the beginning of 2013, and launched their first site the following April. Since then they have launched 3 sites, although only 2 – Ultimate Poker and WSOP.com – have gotten any traction. They should see an increase in traffic in revenue when their agreement with Delaware takes off.

Banking Poker / Gambling Laws: The Biggest Hurdle Of All

The biggest challenge so far has been banking. Sites in all 3 states have had to deal with processors that wouldn’t complete transactions. That includes credit cards. Wells Fargo and Bank of America (in New Jersey) declined deposits even though it wasn’t illegal anymore. Some banks just don’t want to be involved with (online) gambling.

Some experts claim that these problems will prevent even powerhouses like PokerStars from coming in and dominating. That’s how big an issue it is.

However, there are a couple of solutions.

One is Skrill, formerly Moneybookers. They stopped processing payments for Canadian gamblers at the end of 2013. About that time they reentered the US market. Players in New Jersey and Nevada are now able to make deposits using Skrill, and will soon be able to make their withdrawals to a debit card.

Another solution that’s gaining some traction is PayPal. They’re currently in talks with officials to getting their license for New Jersey. They’re the biggest ewallet, and they have more than 50 million registered users in the USA. It’s easy to get signed up and get started.

This would clear things up quick for players. You could skip your bank entirely.

More than that though, experts think that PayPal could bring some added awareness to gaming in the states, as well as anchor it to the thought that gambling isn’t so bad. If PayPal could get behind gaming, why can’t everyone else? This might push other states off the fence and into the court houses to try to legalize online poker in their state.

That would be a great thing for online poker. We’ll be crossing our fingers, hoping that happens sooner, rather than later.