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Can Online Poker Piggyback Sports Betting Legislation?

May 16th, 2018 Author:

Can Online Poker Piggyback Sports Betting's Legislation?On Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) overturned a 1992 federal law limiting sports betting to just Nevada and three other states, leading to a buzz of excitement over the development by sports leagues and casinos.

Online gambling operators, too, have expressed their optimism that a potential rush by individual states to regulate sports betting may in turn create an opportunity for iGambling legislation to piggyback sports betting bills.

In the USA, the Poker Players Alliance have been representing the interests of the country’s online poker players for more than a decade, and following the landmark ruling by SCOTUS, a PPA tweet was posted stating:

“Today’s SCOTUS decision on sports gambling could help elevate the debate for state-regulated online poker too.”

Nevertheless, can online gambling and poker really ride the coattails of sports betting legislation? Unfortunately, there exists a number of factors which will make online gambling’s ability to piggyback sports betting less straightforward than many had hoped, with any chance of success wholly dependent on the stance of each individual state.

Piggyback Sports Betting

From a regulatory standpoint, there exists sufficient differences between live sports betting products and online gambling to make its inclusion as a component of the legislation more complicated. Furthermore, while there are 12 states currently with sports betting legislation already in place, and a further 6 where legislation has either died of frozen, not all seem keen to bring any potential sports betting industries of their own online. As mentioned by Brian Barrett on

“Take the states with current or pending legislation. Seven of them would authorize online sports wagering, while Delaware and Mississippi would only allow in-person bets. Others remain undecided. And some of the online-friendly locations would still require bettors to register in person at a casino to set up their account.”

The latter point makes sense once one considers that sports betting products will be made available to the state’s land-based gaming interests. Consequently, there are likely to be some states where casinos are more progressive when it comes to allowing sports betting to take place via online methods. In other states, however, casinos may take a more conservative approach on what is generally considered a sensitive political topic and only authorize in-person bets.

PPA Optimism

Despite the many challenges of aligning the interests of sports betting and online gambling entities so that legislation may be advanced simultaneously, PPA President Rich Muny sees this week’s ruling by the Supreme Court as a definite victory for the poker community.

Muny further expressed his hope than individual states seize the opportunity presented to them to reign in unregulated online poker and sports betting from taking place within their borders by creating systems that offer consumer protection, and generate local governments with new revenue streams. As he explains:

“This is a great decision for consumers who for years have had no alternative to wager on sports other than the black market. It presents states with the perfect opportunity to establish sensible policies not only to regulate sports wagering, but also other forms of gaming, including internet poker.”

According to a recent PPA survey, 68% of its members wager on sports, with a huge 90% having expressed their support for sports betting being made legal across the country. Meanwhile, sports betting continues to utilize online and mobile technologies to offer its products, which is similarly true for all online poker and gambling games, and as Muny points out:

“It makes sense for states that are eyeing sports betting to also realize the benefit of regulated iPoker and iGaming”.

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