Any poker player over the age of 25 (and some younger) remembers poker’s Black Friday.
On April 15, 2011 the lights went out on online poker as we knew and loved it. Some of us lost not only our in-home access to 24/7 poker, we also lost whatever money we had earned or invested in our chosen online provider (that’s $52 I’ll never see again!).
Most devotees of online poker assumed that the blackout was a temporary setback. We figured that the federal government would get their arms around the potential tax benefits and how to regulate the game. In no time we would all be typing “donkey” in chat boxes once again.
And still we wait.
In the years since, many have fought to regain access to the online game. Some pros moved offshore in order to maintain this important revenue stream. Others testified before legislatures, arguing that poker, a game relying on skill, should not be classified as gambling.
However, in the years since 2011 there has been no widespread movement toward a resumption of the online game at a national level. Fortunately, there has been some headway at a state level. Among the notable events:
- Delaware was the first state to legalize online poker in 2012 (for those in the state only), but has designated a sole provider (888 Poker) and offers limited options for accessing the game.
- In 2013 New Jersey and Nevada both legalized online poker, so as is the case in Delaware, those playing within state boundaries can access online vendors approved by that state.
- In March 2016 PokerStars even reopened for business in New Jersey (but not Nevada or Delaware).
But what about the rest of us? When will we get to flop on the couch and sign in to a .01/.02 No Limit game again?
Sadly, don’t hold your breath.
While PokerNews predicts that two more states will see a resumption of internet poker in 2017, overall the picture remains grim. Our soon-to-be Vice President, Mike Pence is resolutely against gambling, and the current congress seems unlikely to push to change the status quo.And still we wait. Click To Tweet
The two states which seemed headed in the direction of legalization in 2016, Pennsylvania and California, have both taken a decided turn in the other direction. In a painful twist, New York legalized fantasy sports last year, but not online poker. New York seems to believe that fantasy sports require skill, while poker is a mere game of chance, a decision which makes us here at APT turn various shades of purple.
As long as state and federal legislatures continue to view poker as a game of chance, the barriers to internet poker will remain high. For most of the country, the opportunity to play online poker again is no closer than it was on April 16, 2011.
Thus the seemingly infinite intermission before online poker’s next act continues.