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Online Poker in the US: States to Watch

Online Poker in America
Nevada's favored to win the online poker race.

When the Department of justice reinterpreted the Federal Wire Act last Christmas, they also set off race amongst state governments to see who would be the first to offer legal intrastate online poker. Since then, various states have been moving forward, and trying to move forward, on bills that bring that dream to life.

For affiliate partners, it’s been a maddening wait. After all, the US market offers billions in poker revenue and plenty of that is going to trickle down to web masters of all sizes.

The problem with intrastate poker, as opposed to a federally supported bill, is that all 50 states (and the District of Columbia and various Indian tribes) could all have vastly different regulations. Sorting through this mess won’t be easy but it is necessary. To help our CAP community members get ready for the US market, here’s a guide to some of the states that are considering legalization and how close they actually are.

Online Gambling in the US: A Year in Review


Not surprisingly, Nevada is furthest along in the race to legalize online poker and may have sites up and running by the end of the year.

The Silver State is the most gambling friendly state in the union, but with a population of 2.7 million, it’s also the 35th smallest state by population. However, thanks to dirt cheap housing prices and a lack of state taxes, it could be a popular destination for full time card players.

If you’re getting ready for the US, your first stop will likely be Nevada.

New Jersey

On May 31, the New Jersey State Legislature will be voting the Internet Gambling to not just legalize online poker, but also any table game that’s legal in the state. The man behind the bill predicts that legal online gaming could go live as early as September of this year.

With a population of almost nine million and a gambling friendly culture, this is a place affiliates will want to watch. And if everything works out, they’ll may be offering sports betting someday, too.


If California were a country, its economy would be the eight largest in the world. That’s a pretty significant market for anything, including online poker.

Poker legislation is still in its early stages and is meeting fierce resistance from Indian tribes. Turns out that they’re not interested in splitting the roughly $7 billion they earn on gaming every with online competitors.

There’s also a chance that California could enter into a poker compact allowing the two states to split revenue from Cali players. Affiliates should definitely keep an eye on this story.

Also Watch…

  • Florida – They talk a lot about legalizing online poker in the Sunshine State, but they’re going to work out land based gaming first. So don’t expect it anytime soon, but don’t write it off entirely.
  • Iowa – Poker legislation died in committee there this winter but don’t surprised if the issue gets revisited, especially if other states move forward first.
  • Massachusetts – A gaming bill allowing three land based casinos in Massachusetts passed last fall, but an online poker component did not. It may be a few years before the subject is revisited again.


  • Indian Tribes – Hundreds of tribes of all sizes could fragment the US poker market into a million pieces. So far tribes seem split on whether its a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s going to vary significantly from state to state.
  • Interstate Compacts – There’s nothing keeping states from allowing their residents to visit sites in other states and grabbing a piece of the action. (It’s affiliate marketing on a huge scale.)
  • Federal Regulation – If the Feds legalize online gaming big gaming companies like Caesars will likely rule the national market.

The race to legalize online poker is by no means finished and it’s safe to say we’ll be hearing a lot more about this subject in the months ahead.