Ever since the advent of internet gambling in the mid-1990s, there has been a noticeable reluctance on the part of lawmakers in the US to legalize such gaming activity for citizens. Most of the opposition has come from "brick and mortar" casinos that fear losing revenues. According to an igaming study just released by Morgan Stanley, the tide is turning and as many as 20 states are expected to pass legislation by 2020 that would allow residents to play poker online legally.
Why the Change?
The answer to this question would seem to be undeniable, money. On the heels of the worst recession in US history, many states have been seeking ways to increase revenues. By allowing online gambling of any form, they can seek ways to tax both the gaming providers and the gamblers based on income. Those revenues would provide a boost to most state economies from a source that has long been underground.
By the Numbers
In Stanley Morgan's study, the effect of online poker playing was analyzed in the three states (NJ, NV and DE) where it is currently legal. Based on information derived from the online poker site PokerStars, Stanly Morgan estimates that despite a slow start, perhaps due to the recession, revenues from the 20 states that currently allow or are considering online poker legislation could range from $5.2-$8.0 billion a year. They further estimate that all 50 states could generate in excess of $10.0 billion per year.
The States Involved
Aside from the three states that already have legislation in place, the next state to legalize online poker would appear to be California by as early as 2015. After that, Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania all seem poised to pass laws by sometime in 2016, effective in 2017. Over the following three years, Stanley Morgan's report anticipates Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Rhode Island and West Virginia all joining in the fray.
As the debate ranges between advocates and opposition in every state, the reality is that online gaming is taking place all over the US, legally or otherwise. The time has come for every state to reconsider its position regarding laws that seem to have out-lived its relevance. The fact is the online gaming industry is here to stay.