2013 was a successful year for online poker as both New Jersey and Delaware followed the lead of Nevada to authorize betting at internet domains. Efforts are underway to legalize online poker across the US, while many states are considering legislation of their own.
With New Jersey now live, the most coveted state in the fight for legal online poker is California. The west coast state has a population greater than the total population of Canada, and efforts to pass legislation over the last few years generated widespread support across the California.
But many gaming experts believe that authorization of online poker is unlikely to occur before 2015. According to gambling attorneys based in California, online poker could become a ballot issue in the election later this year, which could install a new governor for the state of California.
Californians are legally able to participate in online poker through domains housed on First Nations reserves. These tribal gaming websites accounted for over $6.78 billion in revenue over the course of 2012, proving there is a market for online poker across the state.
Due to the election, there is a consensus that any legislation will be delayed until after the ballots are closed. Two high profile gaming lobbyists say there is a 50-50 chance that California will go live with online poker in 2015, and both experts believe those odds are a significant improvement from the near zero chance that poker would be made legal in years past.
With online poker legal in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware the knee-jerk opposition to the activity is in the past. Given its size and cultural importance, California could be the next big game changer in the fight for legal online poker across the US.