Pennsylvania online poker and casino rollout, sports betting top the list
Online Poker Report

Five Things To Watch For In US Online Gambling In 2018

Five things to watch online gambling
This year has been an exciting one for the expansion of legal US online poker and casinos.

Pennsylvania legalized online gambling, and an interstate compact for online poker that includes New Jersey was signed, for starters.

But what will we be looking for as the calendar turns to 2018?

1. Which state will be next to legalize online gambling?

Pennsylvania passed a giant gaming expansion this year that legalized online poker, casinos and lottery games, among other provisions.

The big question on everyone’s mind: Does this lead to more states following suit? There are plenty of possibilities on this front, but none are slam dunks:

  • The Illinois Senate passed an online gambling and daily fantasy sports bill in the spring, but progress stalled in the House. The latest chatter is a larger gaming package with even more things in it.
  • New York will again be on the radar to pass online poker (in addition to looking at a new sports betting law.)
  • New Hampshire could quickly get to online casinos after legalizing online lottery this year.
  • Michigan seems serious about advancing online gambling legislation, although there are myriad problems to resolve there.
  • Massachusetts remains a dark-horse candidate to advance online gambling, as it’s a subject the state has spent some time studying.

Will any of the these reach the finish line next year, or will another state not on this list get serious? You can follow our Online Gambling Momentum Tracker (TM) throughout 2018.

2. Pennsylvania goes live

While we’re waiting to see if a fifth state legalizes online gambling, we’ll be anxiously awaiting the rollout of PA iGaming.

A timeline is still pretty up-in-the-air, currently, but the best guess for launch of online casinos and poker is Q3 or Q4 of next year.

There are a lot of questions that we’ll be watching for answers to:

  • How will casinos approach the licenses for online casinos, poker and table games?
  • Will operators try to offer online slots at the 54 percent tax rate?
  • Which casinos will partner with which online operators?
  • How many online poker rooms will there be in PA?

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There will be a ton of developments to follow in PA next year.

3. Online poker pools will get bigger

What we (probably) know: Players at NJ online poker sites should be able to play against players in Nevada and Delaware sometime in 2018. The state entered into a compact with those states to share liquidity.

Like the rollout for PA iGaming, the timeline for this to take place is pretty foggy. But it seems like at least WSOP NJ and WSOP Nevada will benefit in the short term.

That means cash games in all three states will be more prevalent, and guaranteed prize pools for tournaments will be bigger.

And Pennsylvania could also join the interstate compact, though it’s not clear that would happen in 2018. Regardless, it’s a good time to be an online poker player in parts of the US for the first time in quite awhile.

4. Is online sports betting on the way?

The US Supreme Court just heard a case that could allow New Jersey to offer sports betting, and perhaps other states as well, if the federal sports wagering ban is struck down.

The question for this space is this: Will that lead to more momentum for online and mobile wagering? That’s a pretty big “maybe.”

Nevada already has mobile sports betting. New Jersey would likely pass a new law to allow online sports betting, if it wins. PA has a sports betting law that kicks in if the federal ban (PASPA) comes off the books, and allows for online wagering.

Every other state? It’s not so clear what they might do when it comes to online sports betting. If more states start passing sports betting laws, they are likely to be just for wagering at land-based facilities to start.

There’s also a school of thought that the possibility of widespread legalization of sports betting (online as well) could bring online poker and casino along for the ride.

We’re sure to see sports betting bills — and a lot of them — surface in 2018. But will they have an online component? That’s a big question that we’ll start getting answers to next year.

5. Is the NJ online casino market still on the way up?

The market for NJ online casinos has been on fire for much of 2017. How hot? With two months left in the year, the relatively new industry already set a record for revenue in a single year.

NJ online poker and casino games in combination are good for more than $20 million a month. And the market has seen huge year-over-year growth.

At some point, one would guess, the market might slow.

But the prospect remains that bigger online poker player pools could move the needle, at least slightly.

And there is the possibility of new entrants. Hard Rock is taking over the old Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City and could get involved in online gambling. The new owners of TEN/Revel could also look to get into the market. Will those brands expand the market or largely cannibalize existing online revenue?

It’s just one of the many intriguing questions we’re looking forward to learning answers about next year.

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Dustin Gouker
- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner. He has played poker recreationally for his entire adult life and has written about poker since 2008.