Poker Players Alliance Believes US Online Poker Needs iCasinos to Survive
The Poker Players Alliance says that the U.S. online poker sites need casino-style gaming to survive as a business. Online casino games like slots, roulette, and blackjack can be played in one-player games. Poker cannot, so large card playing communities are needed to sustain a successful poker site.
The PPA recognizes that, which is why PPA Executive Director John Pappas has stated before he would like to see federal legislation with a poker carve-out. This week, Pappas has clarified his position, saying that online poker in America might not be able to survive. The PPA’s stance might seem conflicted, but it makes sense, once one gets into the nuances.
The current change is a tacit admission of current realities, and should be seen as a confirmation that state-licensed online casinos are here to stay. John Pappas is saying that he would prefer to see a 50-state federal carve-out for online poker. Since that isn’t likely to happen, then Internet poker sites must be paired with online casino sister sites to sustain themselves.
Lame Duck Session of Congress
From November 9 to November 26, a lame-duck session of Congress will take place. Online gambling legislation will be debated during that time. It’s a dangerous time for those who would like to see licensing online gaming survive in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delware–and spread to other states.
States like California, Pennsylvania, New York, and Illinois are considered legalizing iGaming, as well, but a lame-duck bill could suddenly strike down iGaming in all 50 states. That isn’t likely to happen, which is why the PPA is covering its bases. According to GovTrack, the Restoration of the Wire Act legislation proposed by Lindsey Graham and Jason Chaffetz has a 7% chance of passing. It’s a danger, but one that is unlikely to hit its mark.
PPA Would Like a Poker Carve-Out
John Pappas recently talked theoretically about the proposition of an online gambling federal law being passed. He said, “If there was a bill that banned online casino games, but legalized online poker at the federal level, we would support that all day long.”
Not Support for Restoration of the Wire Act
That is a far cry for support of Restoration of the Wire Act. The bill being championed by Graham and Chaffetz in their respective houses of Congress bans online casinos, but it bans online poker just as surely.
As small as the chances are that Restoration of the Wire Act will be passed, the chances are far smaller that Graham and Chaffetz would go to the wall to kill online casinos, but leave a carve-out for iPoker. Compromises happen at the highest levels of government. The slight chance remains that lawmakers won’t budge on a comprehensive 50-state ban, so they leave one and keep the other, assuming online poker would wither on the vine. That seems unlikely to happen, since the proponents of a 50-state ban use moral arguments to win the point.
Why Pappas Dislikes Individidual State Licensing
The reason John Pappas prefers federal legislation to state-level initiatives is the exigencies of Internet poker. Sites need 9 players per table. They nee to fill up low stakes, middle stakes, and high stakes games. They need to offer Texas hold’em, Omaha, seven-card stud, and a number of other options. They need to offer each of these games in different formats: freezeouts, re-buys, add-ons, turbo events and sit ‘n go events, big weekend tournaments, weeknight specials.
The sheer number of options needed to satisfy the customer base means that online poker rooms need a lot of players. States with large populations like California and New York might sustain such a large customer base. States like Delaware and Nevada have struggled, which is why they signed an interstate poker compact to share players.
Player Pokers Association Supports Online Casinos
Pappas wants to see a fifty state law, because it would allow the states to combine player pools. That may happen over the long term in a 50-state system, but it’s going to be a long and drawn-out process. Investors might lose patience in the meantime.
The PPA sees that online gambling has a 93% chance of surviving, though. A federal law is a long shot, so the PPA wants to support licensed online casinos in order to save their own business model. In New Jersey, online card rooms account for only about 20% of all revenues from iGaming.
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