On April 15, 2011, otherwise known as Black Friday to the poker community, the US Department of Justice effectively shut down online poker across the country. The DOJ blocked access to the biggest sites in the industry. It also charged the sites’ principles with various illegal gambling and money laundering charges.
In contrast, May 1, 2018 will be remembered as the day US online poker truly began coming back.
Shared online poker liquidity
Shared liquidity, or the pooling of players from all three US states currently offering online poker, launched on May 1. WSOP.com’s Head of Online Poker Bill Rini called it “a monumental day for online poker in the United States.”
He couldn’t be more correct.
All that really happened was that players on the WSOP.com sites in New Jersey and Nevada, 888 Poker in New Jersey, and the 888-powered Delaware online poker network’s Delaware Park, Dover Downs and Harrington Raceway sites started competing against one another.
But it meant so much more than just that.
Setting up the framework for US online poker
It meant the framework for online poker across the entire country was finally set up. It was an open invitation for all states to come online and join this new interstate network. And ultimately, it meant the seeds for US-wide online poker have been sown.
Players in all three states should immediately see more cash game traffic and tournaments with bigger prize pools. In fact, the sites are already promising as much, announcing they will be running a new Coast to Coast Classic tournament series featuring more than $1 million in guaranteed prize pools from May 11 to May 20.
They’re even guaranteeing a $200,001 prize pool for the series’ Main Event, a record for legal and regulated online poker in the US.
These are the kind of things that should entice even more players to get online again. It should boost the growth of online poker in the US even further. Plus, seeing it all unfold in a bigger way than ever before could attract even more states.
We know Pennsylvania is coming. Pennsylvania lawmakers approved online poker legislation as a part of a comprehensive gambling expansion package in October 2017. The state’s first online poker sites will likely launch before the end of 2018.
If and when Pennsylvania becomes the fourth state to join the interstate compact with New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware, the size of interstate online poker will likely double. All signs point to Pennsylvania signing on at some point in the very near future.
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Getting other states on board
That should finally be enough to convince other states who might be on the fence about online poker to get behind legislation that will legalize and regulate it there. Signing on to the interstate compact won’t be far behind.
Online poker will spread across the US. The market should return to at least the size it was before Black Friday. Online poker’s darkest day will be a distant memory and it will all point back to this major step forward taken on May 1.
Unforgettable, in every way
Few people remember April 30, 2013 as the day online poker returned to the US, but it most certainly was. On that day, Nevada’s Ultimate Poker launched, becoming the first legal online poker site in America.
People have difficulty remembering that date as the one when online poker returned to the US partly because Ultimate Poker ultimately folded. But mostly because the site, and the fenced-in Nevada market it operated in, was too small to have much of an impact.
The same could be said for all the legal online poker sites and the regulated markets they operate in that have launched since. Even the significantly larger market in New Jersey hasn’t proved big enough to push online poker in the US to the next level.
The launch of tri-state shared liquidity should be, and that should help make May 1 unforgettable.