» Poker for US Players

The US government’s muddy relationship with poker, betting and gambling online got a little clearer in December 2011 and several states are scrambling to pick up the pieces. Americans may soon be able to play poker online (and deposit real money) without needing a major in personal financial management to do so.

Cell phone compatible poker for America’s players will follow soon after.

The US Poker Puddle

Imagine a rainy day and a muddy puddle into which a giant booted foot lands – the people (US states) standing around the puddle (US poker online) are covered in mud splashes but the water inside is slowly clearing.

One big risk is that we could end up with several puddles but lets all hope that regulators manage to avoid the kind of player pool fragmentation currently being seen in Europe. Although there too positive signals can be observed.

The key to a nice clear puddle are regulations that permit residents of one state that allows online poker to play in poker rooms regulated by any other US states that allow online poker (and indeed any countries also). In the end, what will be good for players will also be good for the industry so there’s a good chance common sense will prevail.

Leading Operators

This of course is all hugely hypothetical but for what it’s worth we predict the following operators to be among the first to offer working mobile poker for US players:

  1. Caesars / 888 / WSOP – Nevada has approved of Caesars and 888’s business relationship; they are rumoured to be planning a real money WSOP online poker app and given they already have a fun money app by EA in the market place. And of course 888poker is a recognised brand too. This would seem to put the group in a good position to launch a US mobile poker app if they chose to.
  2. SouthPointPoker.com – after a lot of fuss about an October 2012 launch, here we are in 2014 and still nothing. But then nobody said this would be easy.
  3. MGM / bwin.Party – Two of the biggest entertainment companies in the world. That should make things easier, right? Not necessarily. We envisage a lot more talking and less action before we see mgmpoker.com up and running, even if they do have a license.

The barriers remaining, though significant, are not insurmountable: payment options can be configured, card issuing banks can implement changes to their transaction acceptance criteria and developers can code new geographical checking systems, if required. These are all things poker sites accepting US players know how to already.

However, a mobile-optimised solution is likely to fall a little way further down the to-do list, even if the occasional small-timer are already doing a great job.

States Leading the Way

Look out for more detail on what individual states are up to in the upcoming weeks and months. Here is a starter’s guide:

1. New Jersey

Taxes may go up, and regulations may get a little tighter than originally proposed, but online casinos are expected to get the go-ahead in mid-2013 and with them Jersey online poker rooms. Instead of “US Players Accepted”, what will Jersey poker operators will say? “New Jerseyans accepted” maybe?

2. Nevada

The regulations are in place and the only item pending that is holding things up are the certificates. How long can it take to run a RNG test and sign it? Our naivety knows no bounds!

3. Delaware

This state legalized some forms of betting online before any other but is notoriously slow in ironing out the details, which does not bode well for a solution for mobile poker US players can access. Please surprise us Delaware!

4. California

If anyone can California can. If that isn’t the state’s mobile poker motto then it should be.

5. Iowa

The Hawkeye state has rescued an online poker bill from the regulatory dust but still has some way to go before the cards can be dealt. Mississippi is in a similar position. As are several other states.

Summary

On the one hand, online poker Americans can play legally seems like only a few steps away – the regulatory challenges are easily overcome and most of the technical ones have already been mastered. But doubts continue to nag, not least that operators may simply just not see the benefit in launching an online poker option. What if there just isn’t much money to be made for new operators?