Poker continues to be one of the most popular games played worldwide, and even more so now with the presence of the internet. According to the World Poker Tour (WPT), there was an estimated 100 million online poker players globally, with 60 million in the United States alone as of 2021. In January 2022, Michigan state grossed $155.92 million in total iGaming receipts, of which online poker is a portion. This is clear evidence that online poker is a growing industry again, despite what happened on Black Friday a little more than a decade ago.
In the United States, each state is allowed by law to regulate its own commerce, including iGaming, poker, and sportsbooks. As a result, some states are lobbying for online poker, and others are not; thus ambiguity and lack of confidence in the industry is rampant in the minds of people. The future of online poker is confusing and unclear, but we’ll take a closer look at some of the details to navigate the state of play.
1. States With Legal Online Poker
It may sound odd, but it is legal in 48 states to engage in some form of wagering, whether in casinos, lotteries, or pari-mutuel wagering. But when it comes to online poker, as of this writing, only 5 states have legalized state-licensed internet poker. Those states are New Jersey, Nevada, Michigan, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. To make things even more mind-boggling, the legalization of poker has also occurred in two other states, Connecticut and West Virginia, but there are no licensed operators as of yet. This shows that just because lawmakers made online poker legal, if there is no interest by the citizens of the state, then no progress or developments will occur.
2. The Next States
Despite the approval of legislation moving at a very slow pace, there are some states that are likely to pass laws to legalize state-licensed internet poker soon. For example, Connecticut has considered and opened up discussions of legalizing iGaming. Indiana passed laws in 2019 making retail sportsbooks legal, including mobile wagering within state lines, so online poker could be next. The states of Colorado, Florida, and Illinois allow live poker games to be played and have also opened up discussions to legalize online poker. Although progress is slow, states have put the possibilities out on the table. Perhaps more states will begin to notice how much revenue can be collected from tax dollars, like that of Michigan, and will encourage them to jump on board with legalizing iGaming.
3. How Crypto Can Help
Many years ago, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 made it illegal for banks to participate in processing online iGaming transactions. One solution that could possibly solve this problem is by buying cryptocurrency and using it to fund iGaming accounts. This method can work because crypto is never purchased through a bank as it’s always acquired through a [cryptocurrency exchange] like Kraken or Coinbase. Once the digital asset is acquired, players can deposit unlimited amounts into their accounts and begin playing online poker. Banks and U.S. dollars are never involved in the iGaming transaction, thus funding of the online poker account is completely legal.
Online poker has been around since 1998 and the industry has come a long way. While the market is growing and players have shown strong interest, legislation continues to move slower than the demand. The good news is that progress is being made and states are beginning to lean more towards legalizing different forms of wagering, including online poker and iGaming. With crypto innovatively being used as a possible solution, we can expect to see more online poker opportunities in the imminent future.