Thursday, October 16, 2014

Bringing Online Poker to the People

The US online poker market is by far the most lucrative in the world. This may be a little surprising given the fact that just 3 states presently authorize online poker gaming – Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware. It should be remembered that prior to the infamous Black Friday in 2011, online poker sites had carte blanche to operate in US cyberspace. This multibillion dollar a year industry has Americans chomping at the bit – hook, line and sinker. For the remainder of 2014, it's unlikely that we will see any additional US states regulating online poker, but there is plenty of action going on behind the scenes. Lawmakers in California and Pennsylvania are toying with various online gaming bills to introduce online poker to their respective states.

The online poker industry is in its infancy stages in the US – at least in a regulated form. US players can dabble in all manner of online poker games including SNGs, MTTs, freerolls and bounty tournaments. Diehard poker fans will undoubtedly recall the popularity of the country's two biggest online poker sites: PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. Their absence to date is largely attributed with the anaemic growth rate of online poker in the US, but times they are a changing. In June, the Amaya Gaming Group (based in Montréal) announced a record breaking deal to acquire the Oldford Group and the Rational Group. This company owns PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. High-level discussions are underway in New Jersey and Nevada to bring these poker giants back into US cyberspace. Current legislation in various states prohibits the erstwhile versions of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker from operating, owing to bad actor clauses.

The PPA is Working to Prevent Online Gaming Prohibition

The mid-term elections are coming up in November, and the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) is determined to prevent Congress from pushing through any legislation that would ban – at a Federal level – online gaming. More importantly, they are looking to protect the entire industry, not only online poker which has a strong support base among many lawmakers. The executive director of the Poker Players Alliance – John Pappas – is keeping a watchful eye on Congress during this lame-duck session. Democrats in the Senate under Harry Reid are more inclined to push legislation in favor of online gaming, while Republicans are less supportive.

It should be noted that the PPA is not against online casino gaming; it actually supports it because online casino games are viewed as necessary supplements to the online poker industry. There is a great deal of symbiosis between the casino and poker industries, and the PPA wants to protect it all. The PPA is a little concerned that the GOP will likely win the Senate and attempt to push through legislation to appease Sheldon Adelson – an opponent of online gaming. The ongoing back and forth between the PPA and congressional lawmakers is covered in detail at

Crunching the Numbers

Online poker pundits have been optimistic about how much revenue New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada can generate from the game. To date, the numbers are lower than anticipated with online poker revenues from New Jersey amounting to $21.1 million from January 2014 through August 2014. This figure comprises approximately 25% of total online gaming revenues in New Jersey. For Nevada poker, the January through August tally amounts to $6.141 million, while for Delaware the total is $473,962. The University of Las Vegas Nevada Centre for Gaming Research Report further illustrates that total US online gaming is worth $12 million per month.

Analysts point out that rather than being viewed as alternatives to online poker, online casino games are complements. In each state where online poker and online casino games are legal, there are at most 2 or 3 operators competing with one another. The industry has been intentionally structured in that manner, to provide a sustainable and competitive business model. The online gaming industry has taken a leaf out of the traditional land-based casino industry, especially where issues like oversupply are prevalent. For example, New Jersey's Atlantic City started 2014 with 12 casinos, but only 8 remain today. New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, wants to be sure that the emerging online gaming industry is nurtured, and protected from oversupply.

Depositing Funds into Your Online Poker Account

Online poker rooms offer freerolls to players, but the big-money typically comes from real money games. Fortunately, there are several ways to deposit at your preferred online poker room, and each of them is 100% safe and secure. Some of these methods include prepaid cards, Cage Deposits at a land-based casino, MasterCard, Neteller, ACH checks, bank transfer, Visa, Skrill and other payment options there are presently being developed. In all instances, you have to be at least 21 years of age and you have to be physically present in the state that allows online poker gaming. These issues are verified by way of Social Security numbers, ID checks and geolocation technology. Of course, players win money when they win poker games and the house generates revenue by way of advertising, the rake and tournament entry fees.

Know Your Online Poker Room
Many players wonder whether online poker rooms are legal in their state. As mentioned, there are presently 3 states allowing online poker and online casino games. However you will likely find many unregulated online poker rooms offering games to players across all 50 states. It should be remembered that only regulated operators can be trusted, because they are vetted by the US gambling regulatory authorities. Since many operators have offshore poker sites, it's not always possible for the authorities to police each and every one of them at all times. Therefore it is incumbent upon players to check out each of these sites, to make sure that they are legit.

A big part of the reason why you don't want to be playing at an unregulated online poker room is because you don't know if you will get paid out or not. Other issues to consider include trustworthiness of the gaming platform, customer support and player numbers. At least with regulated online poker rooms, you have recourse in the event of unethical conduct. A recently released McAfee report states that the online gambling industry will be worth an estimated $43 billion by 2015, with an annualised growth rate of 7.3%. It's easy to see why shady operators would want to cash in on this lucrative industry. Fortunately, most poker players are savvy enough to think first and act later!

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