Pennsylvania is expected to regulate online poker sometime this fall.
A vote on the matter has been pushed to the fall but the state budget has already earmarked funds related to online gambling.
Most believe that it's just a matter of when and not if a bill will be pushed through. Once a bill is finalized, many believe that Pennsylvania will usher in a new wave of states regulating online poker.
California is expected to be among those states in the next wave of iPoker regulation. Let's take a quick look at what the U.S. iPoker landscape could look like over the next five years.
New York and California Next, Followed By Michigan
New York and California have both made progress towards iPoker regulation in 2016 but are likely not to get a bill passed.
It is safe to assume that PA regulating the game will give both states the needed push to finally get a bill finalized.
New York will have the greatest motivation as its casino industry will face immediate online threats from both Delaware and Pennsylvania. It is likely that PA will join forces with one or more states with New Jersey a likely partner for an interstate compact.
New York regulating the activity is a matter of necessity rather than luxury.
In the case of California, it will no longer make sense to continue to delay a push for online poker.
While it is not guaranteed that they will regulate the activity, PA will be the second large individual market to regulate and California card rooms and Indian casinos may begin to feel the pressure to regulate.
If PokerStars opens in PA and happens to follow suit in NY, the argument against them will be completely moot and Indian tribes will look foolish to continue working against the grain.
As Steve Ruddock pointed to on Online Poker Report, Michigan has an outside shot at regulating online gambling in November after the Presidential election.
If this doesn't happen, expect a major push in the state for 2017, especially if PA goes online.
Other States to Start Examining the Issue
Ruddock also mentioned several other states in a piece on OPR regarding the next states to regulate iPoker. He mentioned Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
The only state to show any signs of trying to regulate iGaming out of that group recently is Massachusetts and that was a short-lived bill.
While it is possible these states could look at iGaming, there are others that you can expect to at least begin discussions and filing bills.
Mississippi will probably file a bill and strike it down in 2017 but by 2018 there could be some serious discussion beginning.
West Virginia has explored the issue in the past and we expect that to happen again in PA comes online. We believe that they will move forward with a bill within two years of PA going online.
Maryland is another proximity state we expect to explore iGaming due to PA going online. They will need to do so in order to compete.
For those wanting online poker in Washington State, don't hold your breath. There simply isn't enough interest there to even get a bill out of committee.
We put the chances of Washington State regulating iPoker lower than that of Mississippi. Should PA regulate in 2016, then expect a flurry of activity in 2017 and 2018.
We currently set the line at two states joining PA for regulated online gambling by the end of 2018 with two to three more regulating by 2020.