Online Poker Finally Making a Comeback to the United States

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Seven years ago, on April 15, 2011, the United States Department of Justice effectively shut down the country’s online poker industry citing various illegal gambling and money laundering concerns. Since then, the quest to reinstate online poker in the U.S. has been quite daunting but the situation has taken a turn for the better. On May 1, the online poker industry finally began the journey towards the eradication of state-segregated online poker markets. Now, online poker players in the states of New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada are able to play legally against each other on World Series of Poker ( and 888Poker networks.

While only the three states mentioned above are able to participate in the shared liquidity online poker, for now, the combination of the player pools is certainly a huge step forward for the market. In fact, it is just what the U.S. poker industry needs to gain some traction – more states, Pennsylvania included, are expected to join in soon and a number of other operators, such as PartyPoker, have shown interest in jumping into the online poker liquidity bandwagon.

“It’s a monumental day for online poker in the United States,” said Bill Rini,’s Head of Online Poker. “This is truly a game-changer for players and we hope is the model blueprint for additional states to join the fray.”

What to Expect

The immediate culmination of the multistate share liquidity will be larger player pools which will, in turn, culminate into larger prize pools. Eventually, the larger prize pools will draw in more players and this creates a growth cycle that in essence, could contribute to exponential growth in the United States online poker market since it will undoubtedly impact the directions of similar legislation in other states.

Pennsylvania is in the process of launching its online poker industry and as mentioned earlier, all signs point to the possibility that it will eventually join the Multi-State Internet Gaming Association when it goes live.

In addition to this, liquidity sharing implies that the poker market will be more appealing to poker players as the operators strive to offer them wider selections of games and tournaments, wider time zone coverage and bigger prize pools. It is basically a win-win situation for nearly all stakeholders including the states themselves – a sustainable and viable online poker market means that the state will be raking in more revenue in tax dollars from the online poker industry. Online poker operators that do not get join the pool or find viable countermeasures are likely to get downtrodden, but they still have a bit of time to adjust appropriately.

China Bans Online Poker and Its Promotion on Social Media

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According to a report by Inside Asian Gaming, China has launched a crackdown on online poker operation and its promotion in the country. Beginning June 1, online poker will no longer be considered a competitive sport and thus not only will it be illegal but also its promotion via all social media platforms will be banned. The impacts of the ban are already rippling throughout Asia and beyond but the Chinese gaming industry is certainly going to get hit the hardest.

Regardless of the fact that gamblers are not allowed to play online poker for real money in China, the game has grown rapidly partly due to their promotion on social media. Therefore, places like Manila, Macau and Jeju Island in South Korea are certainly going to feel the pinch once the ban is implemented as from June 1.

According to the requirements of the ban, all mobile apps and device software offering any form of social online poker games are to be shut down and removed from the app stores. In addition to this, social media platforms like WeChat will no longer be allowed to promote any social poker offerings, particularly any Texas Hold’em product. The huge implications mentioned earlier emanate from the fact that poker in China to a large extent is played on these apps.

Operators from other parts of Asia are also bound to be affected by the ban specifically because Chinese players make up nearly half of their customers. Playing poker online is one of the main ways for players in Asia to qualify for live tournaments. Even if Chinese players choose to attend live poker events in other places, they will not be in the loop because on the social media ban – obviously, they cannot attend live poker events that they do not know about.

“It is a shame that the government won’t allow people talking about the game,” said Stephen Lai, the managing director of Hong Kong Poker Players Association. “We have been very happy that China has been allowing social gaming, not for money, so that people from China have a chance to practise and travel around Asia and beyond to play poker, where it is legal to do so.

Chinese players won’t have a chance to practise, and they won’t get to know about legal poker events around Asia. Poker has gone back to square one in China.”

While the Chinese government is yet to issue an official statement regarding the decision some operators such Tencent are already making moves to comply with the new regulations. Apparently, Tencent and some other companies are already removing their social online poker apps from the app store.

New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware to Share Poker Liquidity

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Great news for regulated online poker in the United States! Players from the states of New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada will soon be able to compete against each other as from May 1 according to Associated Press. Recent rumors pertaining to liquidity sharing between the three states was confirmed with the first implementations involving renowned poker operators 888Poker and WSOP NJ.

“This has been a huge collaborative effort from all involved and it is important to thank the elected leadership and regulatory authorities in Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey for their dedication and diligence to help move online poker forward,” said WSOP’s head of online poker Bill Rini. “Everyone has had the end user in mind throughout this process, and as a result, we believe the United States, for the first time in a regulated environment, will have a large-scale multi-state offering that will propel the industry forward as soon as next month.”

A deal between New Jersey and Nevada was announced last year and hence it is long overdue but the timing could not be better since it still is, by all means, a historic arrangement for the two most popular regulated casino gambling markets in the United States. Furthermore, it presents a big boost for the Nevada and Delaware casino markets – the two states’ population are rather small, that is, Delaware has under one million while Nevada has three million. The inclusion of the New Jersey will certainly improve the statistics of all three state’s online poker industries.

The report further mentioned that online poker players in Nevada and Delaware will, however, be required to download new software and set up new accounts if they want to play against players from New Jersey. This means that existing Nevada and Delaware online poker software will become obsolete once the liquidity sharing process begins.

More States Could Join

Pennsylvania is the fourth state to legalize regulated online poker and it is now awaiting online poker applications which means that online poker in the Keystone State could be a reality by the end of 2018. Hopefully, Pennsylvania could join the other three states in the concerted effort to grow and nurture multi-state online poker which will create a market of nearly 26 million people. On the same note, a number of other states including New York and Connecticut are considering legalizing regulated online poker this year and they too could join in and expand the player pool further.

New York Online Poker Bill Back on the State Assembly Table

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It has been just a few weeks since the New York State Senate passed a budget which excluded plans for legalized online poker or online casinos. This was a presumably clear indication that the proposed bill represented nothing more than a pipe dream but, apparently, a recent Online Poker Report story suggests otherwise. The legalized online poker legislation still has a good shot at getting passed this year.

At the helm of the rejuvenated efforts is New York State Assemblyman Clyde Vanel who has called for the involvement of New York poker activists as he prepares to solicit for votes to support legislation that will finally allow for legal and regulated real money online poker in the state.

At the moment, the bill has 13 co-sponsors but Vanel expects it swell its ranks to “60 to 70 sponsors.” If this is truly the case, then bill A 5250 that was proposed by Assemblyman Gary Pretlow in a bid to legalize online poker, might finally be passed in the course of the year.

“Chairman Pretlow is a great champion for it, and now he has the partners to bring it through,” Vanel said in an interview with Online Poker Report. “The next few weeks will show some traction for the bill. With enough co-sponsors, I like it to get out of committee and onto the floor. I think we have a good shot at getting it through this year. My job is that I’m the guy who is going to whip these votes. That’s what I’m doing. I’m working these votes to get the bill on the floor, and I will be whipping votes on the floor.”

Vanel’s involvement, for one, makes the online poker community in New York more optimistic that they might finally be able to enjoy the games legally. The lawmaker’s attitude of fortitude is what has been missing all along in the New York online poker scene. He managed to get more than 60 Democrats in the Assembly to sign a letter that supported the inclusion of online poker in the budget. Now, the task at hand is to transfer all those signatures to co-sponsors of the bill and maybe get more on board.

“The budget effort didn’t work, but that happens with negotiations,” Vanel said. “What the exercise did is make us see that there’s more support for online poker than we previously thought.”

Suppose the proposed bill is passed at the Assembly, “it will have no problem getting through the Senate.”

PA to Permit Online Gaming Licensees to Host Multiple Skins

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The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) published its most recent rules and regulations that govern is imminent online gaming licenses. The new rules and regulations will allow the state’s online gambling licensee to host multiple ‘skins.’ This means that non-Pennsylvanian companies will have the opportunity to participate in the state’s lucrative online gambling market. However, the licensees will be forced to piggyback the skins on their casino domains.

The contentious question about skins or the ability of a casino to host affiliate operators has been looming of the board for quite some time and now that it has been addressed operators can start preparing. In essence, it emulates New Jersey’s approach where one casino is allowed to partner with and offer services from other operators.

In Pennsylvania, the lobbyist efforts on the issue of skins have proven to be very fierce with online operators such as 888 Holdings advocating for it and Parx Casino and Penn International arguing that no third-party sites should be allowed. 888 Holdings has successfully implemented a model of such kind in New Jersey where it has piggybacked its local casino license to favour its partnership with Caesars Entertainment.

Ultimately, the PGCB opted not to restrict its online market and instead decided to permit its interactive gaming certificate holders to partner “with multiple licensed interactive gaming operators to offer interactive games the Board has authorized the interactive gaming certificate holder to conduct.”

The PGCB further clarified that it was not going to restrain third-party operators from inking deals with more than one Pennsylvania gaming certificate holders. However, this is on condition that the third-party companies will no offer online gambling to the Pennsylvanian market “independent from an interactive gaming certificate holder and the interactive gaming certificate holder’s webpage or the webpage of an entity within the interactive gaming certificate holder’s organizational structure.”

On the same note, the licenses or any of their partners “may only offer interactive gaming in this Commonwealth through the interactive gaming certificate holder’s webpage or the webpage of an entity within the interactive gaming certificate holder’s organizational structure.”

The mentioned clauses clearly indicate the fact that third-party operators will have to piggyback on the domain names of the license holders. Fair enough. The board will begin accepting interactive gaming applications from the state’s existing brick-and-mortar casinos later this month.

Online Poker Excluded from New York State Budget Again

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Internet gambling has once again been excluded from the New York state budget despite having passed the Senate vote in January for the third straight year. Therefore,   and they will have to continue driving off-state to get in on some poker fun.

While the New York Senate has from time to time shown some love for the poker community in recent years, it is no secret why all the online poker bills never seem to get far in New York. The bill has been passed by the Senate a number of times but it cannot become a law until the Assembly and the governor give their approvals. The Assembly, for one, has shown very little support for online gambling and even refuses to vote on it.

Land-based casinos in New York have been struggling financially for a while now and it was anticipated that they would borrow a leaf from the neighbouring Atlantic City where online gambling has helped to the revenues of their struggling casinos. Apparently, the state is not interested in boosting land-based casino revenues.

New York hosts four non-tribal casinos all of which are in dire need of financial aid. The $440 million Seneca County-based Del Lago Resort Casino, for instance, has been asking the state to bail it out of its huge debts. The casino expected revenues of up to $263 million during its first year of operation – it, however, fell short of the revenue projections by a staggering $100 million.

“This casino developer pushed to have a New York casino for years, including on the Syracuse state fairgrounds,” state Sen. John DeFrancisco said. “So he knew exactly what he was getting into. If he’s losing money, that’s his problem to fix, not the taxpayers.”

This certainly proves that the state’s struggling brick and mortar casinos are not going to benefit from revenue boost from online gaming anytime soon.

Banking on Sports Betting?


Should the United States Supreme Court abolish the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), each state will be able to license sportsbooks within its borders. New York, like many other states, is considering supporting wagering on professional sports in case the Supreme Court rules in favour of sports bettors.

PokerStars NJSCOOP Makes a Come Back with 80 Tournaments

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Touted as New Jersey’s richest tournament series ever, the PokerStars New Jersey Spring Championship of Online Poker (NJSCOOP) is returning and this time players can look forward to guarantees of over $1.3 million. The series is scheduled to run from April 14 through to April 30 and will feature a whopping 40 events – each of the events will be split into a high and low buy-in for which will sum up to 80 tournaments spread out across the 17-day schedule.

The most anticipated events of the series are set for Sunday, April 29. These are: the $200,000 guarantee $500 No Limit Hold’em Main Event (High) and the $50 Main Event (Low) which has a $30,000 guarantee. Both the high and low winners of the NJSCOOP Main Events will receive a Platinum Pass package.

The highly coveted Platinum Pass packages are each worth over $30,000 and include entry into next year’s $25,000 buy-in Poker Player’s NL Hold’em Championship as well as fully sponsored stay at the Atlantis Resorts in Nassau.

Unlike last year’s event, this year’s NJSCOOP schedule added five more high and low tournaments as well as an additional $100,000 in guarantees with buy-ins ranging from $5 to $1000. Majority of buy-ins range between $100 and $200 for the high events and between $10 and $20 for low events. While most of the events will be No Limit Hold’em, there will be a decent dose of mixed-games such as 8-game HORSE. Still, participants will be treated to a healthy selection of No Limit Hold’em variations including progressive KO, escalating antes and win the button.

Since there is a Platinum Pass on the line, it will certainly be a surprise if the event sees another record turnout – for the very first time, PokerStars exceeded the $200,000 guarantee for its main event last year. Naturally, as proven by the results of previous events and the history of the series the high events are likely to outperform the low events.

CoinPoker Responds to Poker Bot, Security Issues Allegations

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Just a few weeks ago, CoinPoker’s real money tables went live and the site is celebrating by running a number of generous promotions. However, according to writer and GameIntel Managing Editor Alex Weldon, these generous promotions have been contributing to the cryptocurrency-based online poker site’s bot-driven player traffic. Weldon also believes that CoinPoker is struggling with security protocols on the site.

Alex Weldon first wrote about this on a March 17 article title ‘CoinPoker’s Traffic is a Farce’ in which he detailed the findings from his research of the traffic numbers for GameIntel – the company that supplies data to PokerScout, an established website that tracks online poker traffic of nearly all online poker sites.

Weldon’s research was apparently prompted by what he describes as “abnormal traffic patterns.” For instance, he noticed that a number of players were simultaneously playing a number of tables for hours at a time. Furthermore, the said set group accounts dominated the huge volume of gameplay with a significantly small number of other players getting in on the action from time to time.

The players that caught Weldon’s eye all played at minimum stakes for each of the site’s leaderboard levels with each of the level of the leaderboard having nearly the same of player at the tables, though with different names. The wagering patterns of the massively multi-tabling players made Weldon even more suspicious as they seemed to be making programmed decisions.

CoinPoker’s initial response was the closure of three accounts as further investigations are carried out. The site’s officials also pointed out that “Malicious poker bots have not been a significant issue thus far, but we will continue to investigate the problematic accounts that pop up on our leaderboard.” Still, CoinPoker’s security protocols and the site as a whole have been subject to a number of questions.

To further prove their dedication to handling the issue as expected, the online poker operator decided to limit the number of simultaneously played tables to 8 per player. In addition to this, the site plans to integrate a verification tool called Civic to their platform.

“With these measures in place, we can, with a high degree of confidence, say that our final leaderboards reflect players who have played fairly and worked hard to win prizes in our current 5MM CHP Giveaway Promotion,” they wrote.

On the issue of security protocols that was a key concern for many of the stakeholders of the poker site, CoinPoker confirmed that the launch of its peer-to-peer security system was still scheduled for October this year. The new security system will be replacing the existing security system that runs on a hybrid platform that combines standard online gambling security measures and blockchain technology

Russia’s New Online Gambling Laws Raises Stars Group Concern

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As part of 2017’s earnings reports, renowned gambling operator Stars Group pointed out that the Russian gambling market would be a potentially troublesome one in 2018. The earnings report also included what the online gambling operator is expecting to make this year with the figures further including assumptions that Russia would be introducing and implementing new online gambling rules that will essentially make it harder to process payments for Russian players.

There has been no official explanation from Russian officials in regards to the implementation of the new law that is likely to be enforced as from May 25. However, it is expected that the regulations will restrict banks from partnering with foreign payment processors or gambling operators that have been blacklisted by the Russian government.

While the new atmosphere will certainly not kill the Russian online gambling market, it undoubtedly has the potential of clamping down on the size of the gambling industry in the country. This is we put into consideration a similar scenario in the United States where the online gambling industry was clamped down after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed back in 2006. In the likely case that this occurs, the Stars Group will take quite a hit especially because the Russian online gambling market accounts for a huge chunk of its global market.

Stars Group Working on Contingencies

The effects of the changes that the Russian government is going to make is off-putting for investors but Stars Group is not giving up so easily. Rafi Ashkenazi, the Stars Group CEO said that he and his team are already working on contingencies that will help the company to deal with anything that the Russian government throws at them.

“We have plan As and plan Bs and plan Cs for every type of scenario that may happen in the market,” Ashkenazi told analysts. “We are monitoring, we are assessing, and we are ready.”

The concerns that were raised about the Russian gambling market were shared as part of an overall earnings reports which showed a steady 2017 for Stars Group – this encompassed both PokerStars as well as the group’s other online gambling sites. Total annual revenue went up 13.6 percent for fiscal 2017, summing up to over $1.3 billion. The same goes for other earnings as well – the net earnings rose by over 25 percent within the same period.

888Poker, Poker Central Partnership Renewed for Third Year

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888Poker continues to be the leading face of American online poker with the extension of the poker operator’s partnership contract with Poker Central for the third year in a row. Poker Central, which is a renowned online poker content hub made the announcement that their huge sponsorship deal had been extended and expanded to allow 888Poker to be the exclusive in-show sponsor of the Super High Roller Bowl that will take place this spring. Furthermore, 888poker will feature, to a very large extent, during several broadcasts of poker events such as the U.S. Poker Open, the ARIA High Roller Series and Poker Masters throughout 2018. The World Poker Tour and the World Series of Poker were among some of the most notable events that were not included in the list even though both have partnered with PokerGO before. At the moment, there is nothing but speculation surrounding the choice to leave out both events but a likely scenario is that both prominent series are basking in lucrative sponsorship deals that have effectively taken them out Poker Central’s league. Still, nothing is certain at this point.

“This is our third consecutive year partnering with 888poker, and we couldn’t be more pleased to have them on board for our growing slate of prestigious events. Together, we’re looking forward to further growing the sport by offering more tournaments that poker fans and professionals alike will enjoy,” Poker Central Vice President, Sam Simmons said after the announcement.

888Poker is also quite excited about the renewal and expansion of the partnership – they are showing it by offering reciprocal opportunities to Poker Central. Some of 888Poker’s broadcasted events are owned by Poker Central – these include Poker Masters and Super High Roller Bowl. 888Poker will now be giving gamblers opportunities to qualify for some of the exclusive tournament events through highly sought-after packages.

All Thanks to NBC?

Poker Central’s renewed contract with 888Poker coincides with another huge reveal. NBC Sports Group will be incorporating more Poker Central programming into its US schedule all through 2018. This further applies to both NBCSN’s linear and digital platforms and the programming partnership will run through to 2020.

All of the three Poker Central events that we mentioned earlier will be covered by all of NBC Sports Group’s online platforms and will be available for streaming on internet-connected TVs, tablets, desktops and mobile devices. Tournament dates and broadcast schedules are set to be officially announced later in the year.