Online poker fans in the 47 of the 50 United States – all but Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey – have heard enough rumors and speculations as to if and when their home state might jump aboard the nascent iGaming bandwagon to make their heads spin. In the early days, as many as 10 states were catalogued as likely candidates for regulation, but the list seems to wax and wane with each passing legislative session. Now, of all the probable states to get the job done, California and Pennsylvania sit atop the tottering totem pole, and according to one distinguished financial advisory group’s in-depth analysis, it could be 2017 before online poker fans in the Keystone State are able to toss chips on the virtual felt of regulated websites.
Morgan Stanley has been a prominent advisor of economic statistics and fiscal climates since 1935, long before the television sets became a fixture of modern-day households, much less computers, laptops smartphones and tablets. The company councils everyone from major corporations and government bodies to global investment groups. In a comprehensive analysis of the internet gambling market published on September 10, 2014, Morgan Stanley Research issued its predictions for the coming years.
Pennsylvania was quick to investigate the potential benefits and pitfalls ever since the US Department of Justice gave states the right to legalize and regulate online poker and casino games at the end of 2011. Up until now, government officials haven’t been able to compromise on the matter in either direction. In 2013, the state witnessed the introduction of an interactive gambling bill (HB 1235), followed by an iGaming prohibition act (SR 273), and then another pro-online poker bill (SB 1386) in 2014. None got very far, but the research team at Morgan Stanley thinks that will change in the coming years.
The study predicts that Pennsylvania will continue to introduce measures and debate the issue in 2015, eventually passing an online poker-only bill in 2016, and finally launching its first real money poker tables in 2017. The analysis goes on to forecast the relative economic gain in the Keystone State, predicting an online poker market would generate an estimated $58 million in the first year, increasing to $389.5 million in four years’ time, although that second figure presumes that online casino gambling will enter the stage two years after the launch of online poker.
John Pappas, Executive Director of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), agrees with the timeframe for online poker regulation in Pennsylvania. The PPA has been a long-time advocate of regulated internet poker and has taken great strides to raise awareness of consumer protection needs throughout the United States. According to Pappas, “2015 is a good probability” for new online poker bills to surface in Pennsylvania. However, he also noted that, “It takes a couple legislative cycles, at a minimum, to get something done.”
Morgan Stanley also predicted that, by 2020, online poker and/or casino gambling will be regulated in 20 states. California would be the first to act with the passage of an online poker-only bill sometime next year. Ohio and West Virginia are also on the list of likely candidates.