Black Friday Anniversary - Don't Expect Federal Legalization Anytime Soon
Today was the three-year anniversary of Black Friday. On April 15, 2011, the majority of the poker world was freaking out over their frozen bankrolls.
In the days and weeks to follow, two things happened. First, we found out that Full Tilt was essentially broke and that UB was as insolvent as feared. Next, PokerStars put itself in a position of virtual online poker world domination.
PokerStars became the first, and only, company to refund US players. Those of you that have been repaid your Full Tilt balances received money paid out by PokerStars. They now own Full Tilt Poker as well as of the top five spots worldwide for online poker.
Following the government crackdown, we saw some wild predictions regarding federal online poker legislation. Phil Hellmuth had perhaps one of the most outrageous claims, stating that online poker would be legal in six-months. Well, those six months have passed and 30 more and we are nowhere near legalization.
With that said, online poker at the state level has finally become a reality in three states. Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey are all currently taking online bets within their borders. California "may" be coming online soon but 2015 is probably a more realistic goal.
The big question on everyone's mind is when poker will be legalized at a federal level. My personal opinion based on what I have seen unfold since Black Friday is that we will not see it anytime in the near future.
I know that is not what you want to hear. That is not the "positive" spin to put on the industry, but as I wrote on April 15, 2011, I am a realist.
We have "some" support at the Congressional level for online gambling legislation but not nearly what you need to get a bill to pass. Sheldon Adelson and his cronies are also a short-term roadblock to legalization.
I don't believe they will succeed. Rather, I think that his coalition may actually help to speed up the process of legalization (or criminalization) in some states. The bill that he has submitted threatens state rights and we are seeing a lot of states come out in opposition. They want the right to make up their own mind and don't want to be dictated to by the federal government.
My prediction for the number of states to legalize online poker in 2014? Zero. California won't get there due to the election year but I think they are the first to go online next year. With that said, I still feel that we will only see three additional states go online in 2015. The growth of legalized online gambling in the U.S. will be slow and continue to be so for a few more years.
Finally, based on what I have seen and read, I have finally come to a new conclusion on when we will see online poker legalized in the US at a federal level. Whomever the next President is, he or she will be the one to sign it into law....in 2017.