One of the big questions asked by many in the online poker community is “Why isn’t online poker being embraced by states as they have sports betting?” You may think that answer is a complex one, but it comes down to a simple explanation. According to reports from the states themselves, their tax revenues are flooding the individual state coffers, adding much-needed cash to these individual states.
Record Sports Betting Take in November
According to Gaming Intelligence North America, the U. S. gaming market shattered records in November. The sports betting industry in the States rose to $561.3 million in November alone, a 22% increase. Four states in particular were leading the way, and they might not be the usual suspects of which you would think.
Topping the U. S. sports betting industry was the state of Michigan, which might have been driven by major sporting events regarding the (now) National Champion University of Michigan Wolverines. The Wolverine State became the first state to crack $175 million in revenues. In Michigan, there are four major outlets for sports betting, FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, and Caesars Sportsbook.
A close second to Michigan was the state that started it all, New Jersey. The first state to open for sports betting following the 2018 decision by the U. S. Supreme Court that overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, New Jersey saw revenues of $171.6 million, the first time that the state cracked the $170 million mark.
The good news was not limited to just these two states. Pennsylvania was up 13%; West Virginia saw a 25% increase, while Massachusetts saw $4.97 billion wagered throughout 2023 (their first year of activity).
All About the Benjamins
Currently in the U. S., 38 states offer sports betting to their constituents. Of those 38 states, 26 of them offer online sports betting, which allows punters to use their computers or cell phones to place their action. Sports betting has become THE outlet for state governments to raise additional revenues without having to raise taxes on their constituents.
Online poker, however, has not seen the same outpouring of support. Only seven states – Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Michigan, West Virginia, and Connecticut – have regulations on the books for online poker. Connecticut is particularly intriguing in that it has regulations on the books for online poker, but no operator has stepped forward to offer it currently.
Why? Part of the issue with poker is that you need to have a sizeable customer base – liquidity – to be able to offer the product. This is especially true with the online game and, in smaller states like West Virginia and Connecticut, their populations do not offer the numbers necessary to justify opening online poker operations. Delaware would be in this situation also, except for the fact that they joined the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) that allows them to pool players with the other member states (Nevada, New Jersey, and Michigan) to build a larger player base.
While many would like to see online poker as a more accessible option across the States, the likelihood of this happening is slim – unless the states get in on the MSIGA. Only a handful of states are large enough to “go it alone” with online poker (California and Texas are a couple), while many states have bettors that are ready to go for sports betting, be it online, live, or both.