The US poker industry saw ups and downs, like any other year, in 2015. There were some interesting stories making headlines.
Online poker legislation gained some traction. New land-based casinos with poker rooms were built around the country, and states such as Ohio, New York, and Texas had good and bad moments.
With New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada already operating legal online poker sites, and Pennsylvania seemingly up next, lawmakers in nearly every other state are beginning to hop on the bandwagon.
Online Poker in Texas?
Don’t count on Texas legalizing online poker any time soon, if ever.
However, some Texas lawmakers spoke out in favor of Internet poker in 2015. Texas Senator Leticia Van de Putte suggested the state pass a bill allowing licensed, regulated online poker sites to operate in Texas should the US government legalize it nationwide.
Of course, waiting on the US government to pass a federal bill is about as likely as Jamie Gold or Jerry Yang winning another WSOP bracelet.
Still, the idea of legalizing online poker in the state could build up traction in the years ahead. Republican Rep. Joe Barton, a poker player, spoke out in favor of federal legislation this past year.
Barton contends a federal bill should be passed which allows each state to decide whether or not to allow licensed, regulated poker sites to operate in their own state. This is the third time since 2011 Barton has pushed for poker legislation.
Texas poker players have an uphill battle to fight, being that the state only has one legal stand-alone card room, the Texas Card House in Austin.
State of New York Poker
The poker community would benefit greatly if New York would join its neighbor, New Jersey, by legalizing online poker.
State Senator John Bonacic (R-42nd District) proposed poker bill S05302 in August. Bonacic’s bill to allow licensed poker site regulators to operate in New York didn’t pick up much traction, but it wasn’t a complete failure.
New York online poker supporters faced stiff competition in 2015. That competition being new land-cased casinos applying for licenses in the state.
Next year could be different, because online poker could receive more attention from lawmakers. That doesn’t mean an Internet poker bill will pass this coming year, but there is hope.
Most experts expect Pennsylvania to legalize online poker next, possibly in early 2016. With bordering states New Jersey and Pennsylvania on board, perhaps New York will join the party.
Ohio Poker 2015
Poker is a popular game in Ohio. The state has hosted major events such as WSOP Circuit tournaments and many high stakes players reside in cities such as Columbus and Cincinnati.
There are no legal online poker sites in Ohio at this time, and legislation is unlikely to be passed any time soon.
Ohio lawmakers flirted with the idea of legalizing online poker sites all the way back in 2012, but still have yet to propose a bill on this issue.
There are, however, numerous land-based poker rooms in the state. One of those poker rooms, at Horseshoe Casino in Cleveland, is currently doing some PR work to clean up a sticky mess.
Robert D. Brown, a poker dealer at the casino, was accused of cheating in a cash game. The dealer has denied allegations, although video evidence may allegedly suggest otherwise, according to the Ohio Casino Control Commission.
Instances such as these are bad for the game of poker, and bad PR for those working hard to bring forth online poker legislation.