Intrastate Boom, National Stall
Last week, two big steps toward online poker legalization in the United States were taken.
First, Nevada became the first state to adopt online poker regulations.
Next, the DOJ released a memo stating that the Federal Wire Act of 1961 only applies to sports betting.
Pokerjunkie blogger Compncards gives us his take on these developments and what to expect in the way of online poker legislation in 2012.
All Eyes on Nevada
Nevada's adoption of online poker regulations was an important first step to not only online poker becoming legal intrastate, but also on a federal level.
With that step comes the added pressure and scrutiny associated with being the frontrunner.
Nevada will now have every lawmaker from D.C. to Hawaii watching what happens next.
Nevada needs to prove, and in short order, that it can provide a safe and fair gaming environment for online poker players.
Every site that goes online after licenses are issued will be tested relentlessly for any flaws or security holes.
Anything that goes wrong will be big news in the poker world, and sadly the poker media will help to proliferate the news.
If online poker sites are to be completely regulated in the United States, Nevada is going to have to be successful.
By successful, I mean it needs to prove opponents of online poker wrong and address all concerns regardless of importance.
The skinny of this is, don't screw it up Nevada. The nation is relying on you.
Intrastate Poker Will Boom - Nationwide Poker Will Stall
If you read the stories being plastered on the internet, you would think that we will be able to play poker online tomorrow.
The recent memo by the DOJ opens the door, for now, for progress towards regulation but that is all.
The main benefit from this will be at the state level.
Now that the Wire Act is meaningless for online poker, some states will move forward with plans for regulation of the game online.
California will probably be the fastest state to push this through as New Jersey's Governor is still apprehensive over the matter.
I still think by the end of 2012 that we will see California, NJ, and at least 2 other states regulate online poker.
Whether any US poker sites will be online and open for play in 2012 remains another issue.
With that said, I think that Congress will continue to stall on the issue.
It will be interesting to see if opponents of online gambling will now scramble to get the Wire Act expanded to cover online gambling, but in the end I don't see that happeneing.
But What About the Children?
What I do see happening is the age old "but what about the children" angle.
We have to protect the children from online gambling and we have to keep it safe.
Based on the speed of most committees, studies, and the like, I don't see anything of real substance coming out of Congress till closer to the end of 2012.
Even then, I think it will be something along the lines of "Nevada has been successful (or not) at implementing the safeguards. Let's proceed accordingly."
In the end, I think you will see more states legalize online poker in 2012, but online poker nationwide will stall.
I've held this belief for years and still do that online poker may pass in 2013, but will not be actually played in the US until 2014.