[toc]For several reasons, 2017 was a banner year for legal and regulated online gambling in the United States.
US players gambled on legal and regulated online casino sites more than ever before. The year started with just three states offering some form of legal and regulated online gambling. However, it will end with a fourth beginning the regulatory process to join them. Plus, an agreement was signed that will ultimately create one single US online poker market.
Add in the fact the third-most populated state in the country moved closer to passing online gambling legislation than it ever has before, and there’s little doubt 2017 was a big year for the budding industry.
Here’s a detailed look at the top four reasons 2017 was a banner year for legal and regulated online gambling in the US:
1. Record revenues in New Jersey
In 2016, New Jersey online gambling sites posted record revenues of $196.7 million. This helped turn around a decade of declining revenues for the Atlantic City casino industry as a whole. However, 2017 has been even better.
By October of this year, New Jersey online gambling sites had already posted over $200 million in revenues. That guaranteed the industry would post a new record in 2017. Plus, November numbers were just released by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, revealing the industry reported over $20 million in revenue for the ninth-straight month. The possibility that the final 2017 revenue numbers for the New Jersey online gambling industry could reach $250 million is now very real.
Just four short years after the November 2013 launch of online gambling in New Jersey, the industry has grown into something rather significant. In fact, the numbers are so significant, it’s getting more and more difficult for other states to ignore them.
2. Pennsylvania passes
The regulatory process will continue through the start of the new year, but online gambling sites are expected to open up to anyone inside PA state lines by the summer of 2018.
After almost four years of failure in states that have been considering legalizing online gambling, one finally fell. But for US online gambling, Pennsylvania is about more than just Pennsylvania. It is the most populous state in the nation to legalize online gambling, and the industry is hoping it will now open up the eyes of state lawmakers on the fence all across the country.
3. New Jersey joins shared player pool agreement
Online casinos are breaking revenue records in New Jersey, but online poker represents less than 10 percent of that. In Nevada, the World Series of Poker-branded online poker site sees a major uptick in traffic when the WSOP rolls into Las Vegas during June and July. However, once its over, the market leaves with it. The numbers in Delaware are so insignificant, it’s hard to even find them.
Nevada and Delaware signed on to share online poker player pools in 2015, but that hasn’t really moved the needle.
However, October of this year brought new hope for the fledgling industry. That’s when New Jersey signed on to the shared player pool agreement with Nevada and Delaware.
That means when sites ultimately get the necessary regulatory approval and start accepting players from all three states, the US online poker market will potentially double in size. More cash games and tournaments with bigger prize pools will be the result. In turn, that should draw even more players to the online game.
The Pennsylvania law legalizing online poker also includes language allowing the state to jump in that interstate shared player pool agreement in the future.
It’s not going to happen overnight, but all signs point to online poker now growing across the country. In fact, over the course of 2017, the word for legal and regulated online poker in the US has gone from disappointing to hopeful.
4. Next Up: New York
New Yorkers have been teased by the possibility of the state legalizing and regulating online poker since 2013. It still hasn’t happened.
The state Senate passed online poker legislation for the second year in a row in 2017. However, the legislative session ended before it even got to a vote in the Assembly. The difference in 2017 was the online poker bill didn’t exactly die the same way it has in the past.
New York state lawmakers also adopted a new carry-over policy for bills in a legislative term this year. That means online poker legislation will pick up next year where it left in this one. Bills passed by the Senate automatically carry over to the second year of the legislative session, and that includes the online poker bill.
What that really means is New York will begin 2018 closer to passing online poker legislation than it ever has before. Plus, once the third most populous state in the country falls, others won’t be far behind.
Ultimately, that means 2017 was a banner year for online gambling in the US. However, 2018 could be even better.