While it's just the beginning of April, we already have a fair idea of what to expect for the rest of 2017 in regards to US online poker regulation.
This was supposed to be the latest "breakout year" for iGaming as two or three states seemed primed to regulate the activity.
At this point, though, analysts are beginning to wonder if we will even see one state get there and it isn't the one you're expecting.
California - Shouldn't Have Even Bothered?
Sure, California has filed an online poker bill this year. But in its present state, one has to wonder why they even bothered.
AB 1677 is the latest attempt to regulate and license online poker in California, but we're wondering if lawmakers are merely going through the motions.
Considering that suitability is what killed last year's efforts, one would assume that Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer would have addressed that first.
Nope. Instead, we have Jones-Sawyer defaulting to the position that regulators should make the choice.
This isn't going to fly with California Tribes. The PokerStars Coalition isn't going to accept anything that prevents them from getting in to the market immediately.
Unless regulators announce they are willing to let PokerStars into the state, there's no reason to believe the PokerStars Coalition will support the bill. Until there's significant change with the suitability language, this bill is pretty much DOA.
Pennsylvania - Needs a River Ace
Heading into 2017 Pennsylvania seemed a slam dunk to become the fourth state to regulate online gambling in the United States.
Then lawmakers began to bicker on the tax rate. The divisiveness between certain lawmakers has cast doubt as to whether the issue will move forward at all. Furthermore, there are some issues surrounding video gaming terminals or VGTs that could stop the legislation.
Pennsylvania is packaging several gaming reforms together in the bills being considered and online gambling is just one part.
A couple of things need to happen. First, the VGT issue needs to be resolved. That could be a matter of just dropping it from the bill.
Next, a tax rate compromise need to happen. The good news is that there's some room between the two proposed rates based on the bills presently being considered.
If a common middle ground can be reached, legislation can move forward. At this point, a compromise hasn't been reported upon.
New York - Pretlow is the Key
As things presently stand in New York it appears that Assemblyman Gary Pretlow is the key to getting a bill passed.
There was enough support in the Senate to pass the bill in 2016 but the bill died in the Assembly due to apprehensions from Pretlow.
Pretlow is now willing to pass a bill and says he is interested in pushing the measure as a standalone bill and not as part of the state budget.
Pretlow chairs the Assembly Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee. He is essentially the one person who has the political influence to convince the other lawmakers to pass the bill in the Assembly.
Pretlow is talking with the state's Attorney General to see if the bill will be deemed Constitutional and is also seeking an opinion from Gov. Cuomo's office.
Should Pretlow get favorable answers, he could start pushing forward a bill and New York, not Pennsylvania, may be the fourth state to regulate iGaming.