Legislation Update: Legalizing Online Poker Sites in the USA

Even though poker is one of the most popular games online from 2011, United States has been impotent to go with the flow. It has been downgraded to the second position on land-based casinos and still fighting to become legal online in the country. However, New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Delaware are the only cities to have passed the legislation allowing the online poker game using real money. Below are the updates on the issue of making online poker websites legal in the US.

Legalized Online Poker in Pennsylvania 2017

Pennsylvania became the 4th state to legalize the use of real money in an online poker game last October 2017 when the House Bill 271 was signed by the current Governor, Tom Wolf as part of the law. It doesn’t only permit the online poker, however, to lets the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board purchase iGaming licenses for $10 million USD that can be used for games like slots, poker, and house-edge casino games. That cost is 25x of the same license in New Jersey. Online poker in Pennsylvania using real money will commence in late 2018 in the Keystone State Online Gambling.

3 of the biggest poker site will join in the Keystone State Market – 888 Poker, PokerStars, and PartyPoker. This recently legalized online poker game could receive a remarkable improvement it participates in the October 2017 player pool sharing agreement between the legislator of other Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey. This may result in allowing 8% of the US adult population to play the online poker in a managed and shared liquidity by 2019. Though not much of the poker players would be concerned about this, the Keystone State Gambling will only be able to support a small portion of operators because of the expensive upfront licensing fee, inappropriate tax rates, and internet options.

Legalized Online Poker in Michigan 2018

Apart from the four states, Michigan finally legalized the use of online poker games in 2018 this is because of the efforts of Brandt Iden, State Representative who took the House Bills 4926-4928 to the House of Regulatory Reform Committee getting a 12-3 from last year’s voting. Regarding the online gambling legislation of Michigan proposals, whether the Wolverine State manages is significantly based on the land-based tribal and commercial casino stakeholder’s agreement.

The Michigan law particularly Gaming Control and Revenue Act of 1997 needs 75% votes to expand the gambling state beyond the tribal and Detroit casinos that already exist. Legislators who approved the Michigan online gambling are looking for the best alternative to this specifying that iGaming servers and other related equipment should be stored in those properties.

House Bill 4926, together with the additional House Bill 4927-4928 plan would give “The Stars Group” the permission to join the Michigan iGaming market accompanied by its iDevelopment and Economic Association (iDEA) , their lobbying allies which includes the PartyPoker, Tropicana Entertainment, GVC Holdings, Golden Nugget, Betfair, Resorts Interactive, 888 and many others.

Online Poker vs. Land-based Poker – Security Discussion

Unsurprisingly, security is one of the topics in the Regulatory Reform Committee Hearing last September 17, 2017, highlighting the question – If whether online gambling and brick and mortar casinos provide a more protection and safe environment for customers. The hearing involves David Cookson, John Pappas, Jeanne David and Martin Stuart who tackles about the gambling security of The Stars Group which is formerly known as PokerStars – world’s largest online poker gaming site. Here are few of the notable information from Jean David and Martin Stuart of The Stars Group:

  • The Stars Group (TSG) has over 900 operations staff in which 600 of those are assigned to provide customer support while the remaining 300 focus on the violations of terms of service. Apart from those, they also have 240 staff dedicated to ensuring the gaming security and 67 people committed to gaming integrity.
  • They shared short facts and figures regarding the TSG global operations. TSG receives 7.5 conspiracy reports from customers and 4 software prohibition reports every day which is equivalent to 2,730 conspiracy report and 1,460 bot software initiated by customers in a year.
  • TSG has adopted the understanding of your customer and anti-money laundering guidelines, utilized geolocation detection software and verify transactions for creating duplicate accounts.

This shows that PokerStars customers reported 10% conspiracy acts and 14% bot users which are caught by the TSG in-house security and game integrity personnel as well as their own security algorithms. The hearing results to the need of security improvement when it comes to protecting players using real money on online gambling and brick and mortar casinos with focus on stopping problem gamblers. Violation is continuously imposed to land-based casinos that will let banned players enter their facilities.

Moreover, neither land-based nor online poker tells a 100% secure environment for their players since the threat of prohibited software used particularly bots and colluders is growing. PokerStars effort in minimizing the potential user problems by relying on player filed complaints to filter cheaters and bot player’s needs improvement. Not all sites would have a zero record when it comes to online gambling where the real money is at stake.