States that could legalize online poker next - pokerlistings

Who will be the next state to legalize online poker? That’s the $64,000 question for online poker enthusiasts in the US. Over the last couple of years, it looked like California was going to be the next state to join Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania in offering a statewide online poker option. But California is stuck in neutral with no signs of life anytime soon. 

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That means it’s time to look at other states who might surprise everyone and jump into the online poker world. And believe me: there are some possibilities out there that you might not expect. 

State of Online Poker in America

First things first: here’s a quick look at the current state of liquidity sharing agreements in the US: 

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*In negotiations
*Working on regulatory issues
*Under control of lottery/multi-purpose gaming agency

The map above tells most of the story about the state of play for online poker in America. The Libertarian inside of you may want all 50 states to offer their own versions of online poker but that ship has sailed. We’ve already seen what lackluster player liquity did to an already small market in Europe (Italy) and we’ve seen what can happen when multiple regulations coexist in France. The future of regulated online poker in the United States lies in liquidity sharing agreements because it gives players the best possible games in all poker categories (cash games, tournaments and sit-and-gos). So any potential new markets are going to have to be open to some form of multi-state or multi-jurisdiction liquidity sharing agreement. 

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What States Are Serious About Playing Online Poker With Neighbors?

That takes us to the idea of state networks. Basically state networks are individual states that are willing to offer online poker but only if they can share players with existing liquidity sharing networks. And the good news is–behind the scenes--there are some discussions between various states and the ones that are already live or in the negotiation stages. 

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New York

There were whispers coming out of New York last year that legislators were interested in playing on a network with other states. And those chats have continued behind the scenes this year as well. Suffice to say New York knows how to run a big poker event with the annual US POKER OPEN at MOHEGAN SUN (located just outside of NYC) and the Big Apple could definitely provide some solid cash game action. The issue with New York is getting a gambling expansion bill across the finish line. 

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New York is one of the largest markets in the United States in terms of revenue but it can take months of wrangling to get anything over the finish line in Albany. There’s also infighting between the various racing corporations that currently offer video lottery terminaries (slots) and the casinos who are clamouring for a bigger piece of the pie. All of this makes New York online poker more than a remote possibility but don’t hold your breath either. 


Most people wouldn’t think of Louisiana as a natural fit for an online poker network but hear us out. First off, Louisiana is surrounded by established poker networks so an online poker network isn’t completely foreign to the Bayou State. To the north, you’ve got Iowa and to the west you’ve got Oklahoma. Both of those states already have liquidity sharing deals done with MSIN. And to the east and south, you’ve got Mississippi and Alabama, both of which are exploring regulated gambling options these days. 

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Here’s the kicker-Louisiana already has a statewide vendor/licensing system in place for its brick-and-mortar casinos. That removes one of the biggest obstacles for online gambling expansions because lawmakers have avoided doing a comprehensive US online poker launch because they didn’t want to set up a licensing regime for vendors and operators. Well, that’s already been done in Louisiana so that removes a large barrier to entry. 

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Another state that surrounds existing online poker networks is Ohio. To the north you’ve currently got Indiana, which is linked to MSIN, to the west you’ve got Indiana and Michigan (which will be linked to MSIN) and to the south you’ve currently got West Virginia, which is trying to strike a deal with MSIN

Ohio has actually passed online lottery sales and online gambling has enough support in the state legislature to pass eventually. The one thing working against Ohio right now is the fact Governor Mike DeWine suspended all gaming expansions while the state assesses the impact of COVID-19 on the state’s casino industry. 

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This one seems unlikely on the surface but hear us out. One of the least known facts about Washington is that the state gambling commission already regulates online horse racing wagering and it already has a licensing regime in place for gambling operators and suppliers. That saves Washington years of work that other states had to do to launch online poker or online casino gaming. 

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To the north you’ve currently Canada, which would seem to be an obstacle but it’s not. Multiple Canadian provinces already offer online poker and casino gaming throughout Canada so British Columbia, Alberta or Quebec would be happy to strike a deal with Washington. To the east you’ve currently got Idaho, which would seem to be an obstacle but there’s not very much traffic that would move from Washington to an Idaho online poker site and Idaho is currently exploring sports betting and other forms of gambling, which would make online poker less objectionable to the Treasure State. 

To the south you’ve currently got Oregon, which is almost certain to link up with MSIN in the next year or two. And to the west you’ll have California (see below). We know washington has a liberal leaning population and Washington's biggest city Seattle routinely produces liberal champion Bernie Sanders in national elections. Washington is also home to tech giants Microsoft and Amazon which could help spur an online poker start-up. 

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Why Is California Stalled Again?

We would be remiss in our duty if we didn’t mention California again. The biggest obstacle to a California deal hasn’t been poker pros versus tribes or card clubs versus tribes. The biggest problem has always been getting northern California and southern California on the same page about regulation. But without the threat of a tribal compact expiration, there’s little impetus for the two sides to come together. 

Meanwhile, states like Texas and Florida are nipping at California’s heels in terms of raw gambling revenue so there’s still an incentive to get a deal done. But nothing has changed recently to indicate California is closer to offering statewide online poker in the near future. 

When Will US Get East Coast Online Poker?

Everyone knows the future of online poker in the United States will be determined by what happens on the East Coast. That doesn’t mean New York, New Jersey or any of the obvious choices. As we explained above, New York is difficult to read right now and New Jersey is happy with its current MSIN relationship. Pennsylvania is another possibility but it would incur cross over traffic from New Jersey and New York so Pennsylvania wouldn’t get the full benefit of being part of an online poker network. 

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No, the East Coast sleeper pick is Massachusetts. Massachusetts is currently doing a review of its gambling laws because MGM has yet to open its Springfield casino thanks to COVID-19. Massachucets is surrounded by MSIN states to the west and south in Rhode Island and Connecticut (which is likely to go online in the next year or two) and to the north you’ve currently got New Hampshire, which is linked to MSIN

The wildcard is to the east because Massachusetts shares a water border with Miami Dade County. FloriDUH has been trying to expand gambling for years and South Florida has a significant Latin American population that likes poker. All if this is pure speculation, but sometimes sleepers become reality. 

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