Harry Reid’s Retirement Might Just Be A Good Thing For Online Poker

Harry Reid
Powerful Nevada Senator Harry Reid announced last week that he will not be seeking reelection in 2016. We examine his stance on US online poker and internet casinos, and what his exit from the political scene might mean for future attempts to regulate these games.


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Legal US Online Poker Sites

Legal U.S. online poker debuted on April 30, 2013. Ultimate Poker was the site that made history. Nevada was the first state to host fully legal online poker. Texas Hold’em was the only game spread at Ultimate Poker during its first six months in business. joined the Nevada online poker market on September 17, 2013. The World Series of Poker’s online site brought the first games of Omaha, Omaha High/Low, Seven Card Stud, and Seven Card Stud High/Low to Nevada.

Real Gaming opened in Nevada in February 2014. It is a small site that only offers No Limit Texas Hold’em. now controls 99% of the Nevada market. This near monopoly was caused by the shuttering of Ultimate Poker in November 2014.

Delaware was the second state to launch legal online poker. There is one network powered by 888. The state’s three racinos – Delaware Park, Dover Down, and Harrington Raceway – are skins on the Delaware poker network. Nevada and Delaware will pool poker players in April 2015. and 888 will be the sites responsible for creating the first legal interstate online poker pool.

New Jersey became the third state with legal online poker on November 21, 2013. There are currently two poker networks in New Jersey. One hosts Borgata and Party Poker, while the other has and 888 on it. Both networks are about equal in size.

There were three additional poker platforms in New Jersey when the state launched regulated poker sites. 888 was originally a standalone site before it merged player pools with Ultimate Poker was unable to gain more than three percent of the market share. The Ultimate Poker site was shuttered on October 5, 2014. The associated UCasino was also closed at that time. Betfair failed to attract any players and closed its poker site on December 1, 2014. Betfair still operates an online casino in New Jersey.

There are some differences between three regulated poker states. Nevada only permits online poker. New Jersey and Delaware also spread casino games banked by the house. Nevada and New Jersey allow the state’s brick and mortar casinos to operate online sites. In Delaware, the state lottery is the sole operator.

One of the biggest advantages to playing online poker at regulated sites in Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey is that all player funds are just as safe as they would be at a licensed casino in any of those states.

There are also ample deposit and withdrawal methods that are safe and secure.Players can use Visa, Mastercard, electronic checks, bank wires, Neteller, Skrill, PayNearMe, prepaid card, and cash at the associated licensed casino. Withdrawals are processed by electronic check, paper check, Neteller, Skrill, prepaid debit card, and cash at the associated licensed casino. The method available depends on the state and participating site.

Federal law allows states to legalize and regulate online poker. This is specifically exempted from the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. A September 2011 Justice Department opinion confirmed this and explicitly gives states the right to permit intrastate gaming.

There is an attempt in Congress to reverse this legal opinion. The effort is spearheaded by Sheldon Adelson, founder and CEO of Las Vegas Sands, the parent company of Venetian in Las Vegas. Adelson’s lobbyists submitted the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA). The bill failed in 2014 and does not appear to have much support in this Congress. Libertarian groups, states’ rights activists, governors, state lotteries, and most of the gaming industry have come out in opposition to RAWA.