The regulation of online poker in the U.S. is slowly advancing and has left many wondering the fate of the poker rooms that currently accept U.S. players.
Bovada Poker, Americas Cardroom, Carbon Poker and Black Chip Poker are all popular poker rooms located offshore that cater to the U.S. market but are not regulated in the U.S. As online poker legalization spreads throughout the U.S. on a state-by-state basis as is expected, will that mean the eventual demise of the poker sites that are serving the American market at this time?
It is highly likely that those poker sites will remain and there are several valid reasons to support that theory. Perhaps the most obvious of reasons why players at the existing U.S.-friendly sites have no immediate cause for concern is that legalization on the state level is a long, drawn-out process.
Take Nevada as an example. State legislators approved online poker way back in December of 2011. The first poker site didn’t launch in the Silver State until April, 2013. That’s about sixteen months from the time legislation was enacted until the first site (Ultimate Poker) went live and allowed Nevada residents and tourists to begin playing real money online poker.
There are indications that the journey from passing a bill to launching may be shorter in the future for other states. Lawmakers from New Jersey approved online poker and gambling in February and are expected to rollout their Internet gambling offerings on the 26th of November. If successful, that’s a nine-month wait from legalization until launch. Considerably better, but still a long wait for anxious players.
It takes a significant amount of time for state legislators to hold various hearings and take votes on the online gambling regulation issue before a bill is eventually passed, if ever. Progress actually crawls along at a snail’s pace and typically takes years from the first time an online gambling bill is introduced until passage. And with no other states currently being close to approving such legislation, there will likely not be any states other than Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey that offer Internet poker until late 2014 and perhaps even as late as 2015.
While regulated online poker and gambling may eventually spread throughout a number of U.S. jurisdictions, it won’t be happening anytime soon. There is just too much work to be done first in the legislative approval process, then investigating the applicants who hope to secure a license, and finally, testing the software of those gaming companies who do manage to win acceptance.
It’s also worth noting that not all 50 states will be joining the online poker party. While a number of states are considering Internet gambling as a means to boost much-needed revenue, there are many states that are not inclined to even entertain the possibility. Examples include Utah and the state of Washington. The former already passed legislation opting out of any eventual federal online gambling scheme and the latter has laws on the books that make it a crime to play online poker within the state.
Those are not the only states that won’t be participating, as a number of states in America’s so-called “Bible Belt” will likely be morally opposed to approving the regulation of online gambling. Add to that mix a number of states such as Hawaii and Massachusetts that have seen repeated attempts at online gambling legislation fail and it’s quite possible that only about half of the 50 states are actually viable candidates to enact regulations at some point in the future.
That leaves a large portion of the U.S. without legalized online poker. Many players in those states who love and enjoy playing online poker will not be sitting idly by and watching from the rails. They will continue to patronize the US poker sites that exist today such as Americas Cardroom and Bovada.
Another reason why the unregulated sites will likely continue to flourish are the quick cashout times that American players currently enjoy from some of those poker rooms and networks. Players on the Winning Poker Network (WPN) and its main skins of Black Chip Poker and Americas Cardroom are receiving their withdrawal requests both timely and efficiently. The same holds true for Bovada, which is regularly cited for outstanding payment processing.
Players tend to remain loyal to poker rooms where things are going well. Excellent cashback promotions and rewarding VIP programs go a long way in keeping players satisfied. There is really no reason to move to another site when feeling contented and if nothing is wrong with the cashout speed and customer service at the online poker room that you patronize regularly.
Indications are that players at both Bovada and WPN are quite satisfied. Bovada leads the online poker industry in player traffic for U.S.-friendly sites and WPN has made huge strides as of late in the worldwide rankings. New promotions have seen players migrate to Americas Cardroom and Black Chip Poker, making WPN the industry’s second-ranked network among those accepting players from the U.S.
The tremendous length of time required for states to approve and eventually offer online poker, the fact that many states will not be among those who allow their residents to play, and the success of the existing U.S.-facing unregulated poker sites. These are the main reasons why U.S. players who currently patronize those online poker rooms do not have to worry about losing their favorite sites when regulated online poker becomes more widespread in the U.S. poker rooms and networks such as WPN and Bovada are likely here to stay.
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