Why Regulated iPoker Has Failed to Expand in the U.S. in 2016

2016 iPokerAt the beginning of the year, some analysts were hoping beyond hope that at least one state would turn the corner and regulate online poker. Now as major deadlines are approaching in multiple states, it appears that the odds of regulated online poker expanding in 2016 are slim and none.

So what happened? Why did online poker fail to expand despite significant movement in each state? Let’s look at a few reasons.

California – Suitability Concerns Slowed Momentum

When it was announced that an agreement had been struck with the horse racing industry over online poker, many thought that it was a matter of getting the Pechanga Tribe to conceded about bad actors. After all, New Jersey has licensed PokerStars and the bad actor issue was all but dead.

Then David Baazov was indicted for insider trading and the bad actor debate reignited. Now, lawmakers and tribes are hashing out the suitability language in AB 2863. Assemblyman Gray promises a viable version of the bill later this month, complete with suitability language.

If the bill moves through Appropriations this month, the bill has until August 31 to get passed. However, unless a major compromise between stakeholders is reached, it is hard to see this bill passing this year.

Pennsylvania – Lawmakers Seem Confused Over What They Want to Do

Earlier this month, it seemed that Pennsylvania was closer than ever to regulating online gambling as measures were coming up to a vote in the state Assembly. Instead of a vote on HB 649, a pair of amendments were added to HB 1925 that would have regulated iGaming.

However, when these amendments came up to vote, there was confusion on who authored one of the amendments and it led to both being voted down. They will come up for reconsideration at a later date, but there’s no guarantee they will pass.

The one that is most favorable at present is A7619, which had more support the first time around and has the backing of the casino industry. Just one of the two amendments need to be passed to get the job done.

Of course, if these amendments fail, iGaming could be attached to next year’s budget, meaning we could be talking about this until the end of the year. However, until lawmakers make up their mind on which vehicle they want to focus on for iGaming, this will not pass.

Michigan – Only Real Hope of Expansion Depends on How Quickly Budget Gets Done

Michigan Senator Mike Kowall was quoted by OnlinePokerReport.com earlier this month as saying that SB 889 had a good chance of passing this year. However, he did state that one possible holdup would be the state budget.

Lawmakers only have until the end of June to push a bill through and if the budget isn’t settled soon, other matters will be abandoned, including online gambling. If this doesn’t happen, Kowall believes that the bill will move through the Regulatory Reform Committee and move on to a vote. Right now, we put the odds of this happening by the end of June at 25% – long odds at best.

New York – Lawmakers More Concerned Over DFS Than iPoker

Nobody gave New York a realistic chance of passing iPoker in 2016. However, after S5302B emerged from committee earlier this year, we were forced to keep an eye on their efforts. Those efforts have went nowhere since.

A companion bill in the Assembly has yet to move. That bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, is on record claiming that iPoker has long odds to pass. From the looks of things, lawmakers are more concerned about DFS regulation than iPoker and will focus on that over iPoker regulation this year.

Regardless, there is just over two weeks left to consider the matter. The legislative session ends on June 16 and unless there is a last second miracle, this issue is already dead for NY.