Are Pennsylvania and California Serious About Online Gambling Regulation? We’ll Know Pretty Soon

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A critically important moment in US iGaming is nearly upon us as the Pennsylvania legislature will soon have the results of study they commissioned back in December.

Chris Krafcik is reporting the survey will be unveiled on May 7, 2014 at 9:30 AM.

The study will likely play a pivotal role in determining Pennsylvania’s 2014 online gambling destiny, and the Keystone State will likely be bellwether for other states in the region that are also contemplating online gambling expansion.

Multiple states are in a holding pattern

If Pennsylvania passes on online gambling expansion in 2014, it will alleviate the pressure that states like Maryland and New York would almost certainly feel if Pennsylvania joined Delaware and New Jersey as a regional online gambling player.

Most states pondering iGaming have implied that 2014 is a time to watch from afar, to see how New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware fare and how far along their neighbors are. Of course there is also the not-so-small matter of what – if anything – will occur at the federal level.

So if 2013 saw the birth of online gambling in the United States, it appears that 2014 is shaping up as the “Year of the Online Gambling Hearing and Study.”

US iGaming has entered a holding pattern that would make Holly McClaine’s ordeal above Washington DC in Die Hard 2 seem like a 10 minute gate delay.

Still a healthy appetite for iGaming expansion

Don’t let apparent stalling tactics fool you into thinking online gambling expansion is no longer in the cards. There is still a strong push for online gambling expansion happening in several states, but the iGaming smorgasbord may not be served until 2015, as 2014 is looking more and more like a long shot across the board.

One such state is Mississippi, which has created a task force to explore potential online gambling expansion.

Earlier this year we detailed (in a four part series) the Massachusetts hearing on online gambling.

New York state, which is one of the few states with a potential online gambling expansion bill on the table (although it’s unlikely to pass) is exploring a gambling study as well, and the bill’s author has publicly stated that he isn’t going to push for it this year – which begs the question, then why introduce it this year?

Even South Dakota is looking into gambling expansion.

What these states and others have done by commissioning studies, scheduling hearings and forums, and assigning task forces to take a look at the issue, is the political equivalent of saying, “we are buying ourselves another year before we have to make a decision.”

Pennsylvania and California COULD be different

Pennsylvania and California appear to be taking the same route, but of all the states holding hearings and commissioning studies, these are the two that seem the most sincere about online gambling expansion.

That sincerity will be put to the test during and immediately after California’s hearing on April 23rd and when Pennsylvania’s study comes due on May 7th.

Sometimes the most telling information doesn’t appear until afterwards, which is why it is so important to not only pay close to attention to the California hearing and the PA iGaming study, but even more so to the reaction in the days and weeks following each.

What to watch for in California

  1. How often PokerStars is brought up.
  2. In what context PokerStars is brought up.
  3. How heated is the debate over the potential involvement of PokerStars?
  4. Have I mentioned PokerStars?
  5. What is said and who says it in the wake of the hearing.

What to watch for in Pennsylvania

  1. Has online gambling adversely affected the New Jersey land-based casino industry?
  2. What is the revenue potential from online gambling in Pennsylvania?
  3. Is New Jersey’s online gambling industry poaching players from Pennsylvania land-based casinos?
- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.
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