PokerStars and bookmakers re-discover America

In 2018 USA government made some changes in the laws, that will seriously affect the online and offline gambling industry. In the US, online gambling is allowed in four states:

  • New Jersey
  • Delaware
  • Nevada
  • Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania had legalized online-gaming at the end of 2017, so the registration and licensing process is underway. This process is very difficult: to obtain a license to a poker room, you must have your own offline casino or a cooperation agreement with a real casino.

Легализация онлайн-покера в США


The pool of players of the remaining 3 states is merged into one and operates on the principle of a closed reservation (only residents who are physically located in the territory of these states can play).

The biggest online room is WSOP.com by 888poker. However, PokerStars and the rapidly growing PartyPoker also want to grab a piece of cake. PokerStars is currently available from New Jersey and trying to get a license in Pennsylvania (expected in early 2019). PartyPoker choose a little different way and, having signed a contract with a network of hotels and casinos throughout the United States, they want to have maximum representation in all the available states.

Problems in the legalization of online gambling

The problem with poker legalization in the US is complicated because of UIGEA – a national law prohibiting banks and payment systems from processing transactions related to illegal online games (betting, casinos, poker, etc.). Formally, if casino does not have a license from the federal or local authorities, then you won’t be able to create the account. Nevertheless, opponents of this law now have a serious lobby, including President Donald Trump, so things can change in the near future.

Also, the situation for PokerStars is complicated, because they were implicated in a federal investigation in case of the organization of illegal online games and money laundering, which took place after the events of the so-called Black Friday, April 15, 2011. This event changed the world of online gambling and became the starting point for the current stage of development of online poker. Definitely it can be said that the transaction to merge Stars Group and Amaya also had the goal of “bleaching” the world’s top poker room to enter the US market. In fact, now it is another company that is not related to its predecessors. By the way, the company Amaya, under the terms of the deal, compensated for the government’s expenses on payments to players of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker who suffered from Black Friday events.

In addition, the PASPA law on sports betting, which was accepted in 1992 after suggestion of Senator Bradley from New Jersey, had a great influence on the development of the online gambling industry in the field of bookmaking. The purpose of this law was an attempt to stop the growing market for sportbetting and the legalization of gambling throughout the country. Senators tried to protect national sports leagues from the impact of bookmakers, banning offline and online bets throughout the country for many years.

An exception was made only for 4 states:

  • Nevada is the state where Las Vegas locates. No need to explain.
  • Oregon – after a conflict with the national football league and the national basketball league among colleges, the state authorities were forced to repeal all laws working against betting and casinos.
  • Montana – here it was formally possible to engage in bookmaking, but it was impossible to take rake from the stakes, which made this idea meaningless.
  • Delaware – there were also long litigation between national sports leagues and associations, and state authorities, but in June 2018 the stakes were allowed in 3 state casinos.

Prospects for the US Gambling Market

However, in May 2018, after years of litigation, the law was repealed by the US Supreme Court, which made the legalization of online-gaming possible in the US. This will give a serious impetus to the development of the online-gaming industry, but also provide large injections into state budgets. In the US the gambling business has been conducted on the territory of Indian reservations, which makes it possible for the indigenous people of America to make quite good profits, since all money earned on the reservation territory is not subject of any fees.

By order of the US Supreme Court of 1987, the federal authorities cannot regulate the gambling business in reservations and in states gambling is allowed. Now, each state can regulate legal activities and the gambling licensing process at its level. Many states, in the run-up to the Supreme Court decision, carried out the necessary legislative initiatives to open online and offline gambling sites on their territory.

In the first place, such initiatives were implemented in the state of New Jersey, which initiated the litigation on the abolition of PASPA. In the near future in Florida, New York and in a number of other states there will be a vote on control over gambling.


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