Will Yahoo! be the next big name in real money online poker in the US?

Yahoo! was one of the very first big-name search engines to hit the world wide web back in 1995. Since then, the website has grown in so many ways, delivering much more than search results to enquiring minds. Now days, one can get just about anything they might need at Yahoo!, everything from an email address to a new car; tickets from a travel agency to a new mate via the online dating service. As such, it shouldn’t come as much surprise that Yahoo! is taking yet another big step with the launch of its very own online poker room, Yahoo! Poker.

Yahoo PokerAs a highly competitive ‘search engine and everything else you might possibly need’ website, Yahoo! has spent more than a decade competing with its biggest rival, Google. In fact, there was a four year stint (2000-2004) when Yahoo actually integrated the then-superior Google search engine before developing its own analogous SE software. Google was first to pioneer several popular innovations in the SE category, including the launch of its email campaign, Google Mail. After a decade of playing catch-up, Yahoo! actually outperformed Google for the first time in 2011, and again in July of 2013. Directors are surely hoping to follow it up with another dominant performance by jumping the gun on Google with its latest online poker endeavor.

Much like the already popular Texas Hold’em poker games available on Facebook, Yahoo! has launched its very own online poker room. For now, players can login, collect free chips and play with others in a social environment where no actual risk is taking place. Industry experts don’t believe that’s the long term goal of Yahoo!, though. With three US states having already legalized and regulated real money online poker sites, and the topic of federal regulation getting more attention from congress this year, the free-to-play Yahoo! Poker may just be the first step towards a Yahoo! branded, real money US poker site.

Current legislation would not allow Yahoo! to take its product into the fiscal realm at this time. It would take partnerships with service vendors and approval for a license from Delaware, Nevada and/or New Jersey – the three states where online poker is already legal for real money – to make the conversion. And at this time, with those jurisdictions being restricted to ring-fenced markets (players can only compete against other players within their own state), the profitability of those markets wouldn’t be lucrative enough to warrant the effort or necessary expenditures.

If the US government does eventually pass a law to regulate online poker throughout the US, it would create a much more compelling landscape. All states would have the opportunity to integrate those regulations and offer online poker on an interstate basis (pooling players with all legally-analogous states), or opt out, choosing not to legalize online poker. Should that date ever come, Yahoo! will be poised to flip the proverbial switch, converting it’s free-play Texas Hold’em site to a real money online poker room available to players in every state that opts into regulation. The only question that remains now is this: How long before the media is publishing similar works on the topic of ‘Google Poker’? Oh yes, it will surely happen…

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