Online poker in the U.S.: More popular than ever?
The U.S. media is loving online poker right now. And why not? The story’s got it all: Shadowy government agents targeting international businesses. The world’s best-known poker pro suing his former employer. The collapse of one of the world’s biggest poker sites. The drama as the rest of the world watches and worries about what’ll happen in the U.S.
And let’s not forget, the World Series of Poker (WSOP) is in full swing, and enjoying much higher-than-expected attendance numbers.
Face it: Online poker hasn’t been this popular in years. So, affiliates, take note: Online poker may be under the gun in the United States, but it’s still more popular than ever. As new regulations are considered to make it safe to play again, there’s more reason than ever to be excited about online poker’s future.
Here’s the latest from the U.S. online poker scene.
Poker bill faces changes
Writing for the Las Vegas Sun, Karoun Demirjian explains that Joe Barton’s new poker bill will probably face “some serious changes before skeptics and even some supporters think Congress will be ready to back it.”
Rep. Shelley Berkley is the bill’s main Democratic sponsor. She says the bill’s “not perfect, and we will, in order to get it passed, have to make some changes, particularly when we talk about the wait period for those companies that have been doing business online against the spirit of the current legislation.”
“I suspect to reach a compromise and get this bill passed, we’re going to have to work on that.”
DC moving forward
A lot of the online poker talk revolves around Washington, D.C.’s plans to implement its own online gambling system. After a hearing this week, those plans have been adjusted (ruling out the inclusion of “hot spots”) but still on track to be implemented this summer.
“The [lottery] board’s implementation of the plan has been and continues to be consistent with federal law so long as technology… ensures all of the gambling takes place within District borders,” D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan said at this week’s hearing.
Under D.C.’s system, online government-run lottery sites are allowed, and only to residents of D.C. Outside operators aren’t able to offer online gambling and poker games to residents.
Plus, the games are designed to be extremely low stakes. “While the dollar amount hasn’t been finalized, gamblers will likely be barred from depositing more than $250 a week into their online accounts to begin play, lottery director Buddy Roogow said,” according to the San Francisco Examiner. “There are no limits on what someone can win.”
In the general excitement and media blitz over online poker, some states that had previously not considered online gambling are considering getting into the act.
“We are watching it very, very, very closely,” Chuck Bunnell of Connecticut’s Mohegan Tribe said, adding that the Mohegans “are already working on their own Internet gaming website to be ready for the day when it becomes legal to bet on the Web in the U.S.”
Rhode Island lawmakers are also exploring online gambling, which “emerged as one of the new — and currently illegal — offerings that Twin River owners are seeking to add to their gambling menu via a public referendum in November 2012,” reports the Providence Journal.