Internet gambling has come a long way since the start of NJ online casinos

The US Online Gambling Industry Has Changed Dramatically In Six Years

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June 9, 2013. That was the date of my first column at Online Poker Report, the innocuously titled, Nevada Licensee Profile: Bally Technologies.

This column is the last one I’ll write for OPR.

And my oh my, how things have changed since I was profiling potential Nevada online poker licensees back in 2013.

In the words of the Grateful Dead, what a long strange trip it’s been.

Six wild and crazy years of online gambling

How do you condense the last six years of US online gambling to fit in a single article?

You don’t.

So, here are a few of the highlights I’ve had the privilege to cover since I started working for OPR.

There was the birth of legal online gambling in the US, via the launch of New Jersey online casinos. I witnessed its struggles, successes, and the bitter (and still ongoing) fights surrounding it.

There was the multi-year fiasco known as California. Somehow I covered the maddening legislative efforts to legalize online poker in California for several years and emerged with my sanity intact.

There were victories, like the day Pennsylvania legislature passed its online gambling expansion bill in 2017.

And heartbreaking losses. I had a front-row seat when former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder channeled his inner Lucy and snatched the football away from us at the last minute.

And of course, there were all of the acronyms: RAWA, PASPA, DFS, and a bevy of others.

Every event was unique, convoluted, and nuanced. That meant that each and everyone required the OPR team to put our heads down, roll up our sleeves, and make sense of these extremely complex issues.

And in that way, my time here has been extremely fulfilling.

A job well done

OPR broke a lot of news during my six-plus years. We investigated important stories. We were able to not only inform on, but help shape legislation through our reporting. In many instances, we were, and continue to be the experts states and the industry turn to.

Search any government white paper on online gambling; look through testimony from online gambling hearings; read an academic paper on the topic; or simply go look at the Supreme Court’s PASPA opinion. In the footnotes you’ll almost always find a reference to OPR or one of our sister sites.

The OPR trinity (Chris Grove, Dustin Gouker and myself) have been regularly invited panelists at gaming conferences around the globe.

If you were to travel back in time and inform 2013 me what I’d be doing in six years, I would have laughed in your face. Never in my wildest dreams did I think any of that would be possible.

OPR also helped reinvent the role of gambling affiliates.

We flipped the gambling affiliate model on its head, and as the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats. I’d like to think we were the rising tide that led to better content, and by extension, better opportunities for those of us working in the legal US affiliate industry.

Here’s to the tide continuing to rise.

- 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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