One Year Later, PASPA Repeal Hasn’t Offered Much Help for Online Poker

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It was exactly one year ago today that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act – or PASPA – was struck down by the Supreme Court, a decision that opened the doors for states to regulate sports betting as they saw fit. But despite hopes that the decision might offer some benefits for the online poker industry, there has been little to support that optimism in the year since.

PASPA repeal anniversary poker
One year after PASPA was struck down, sportsbooks are flourishing, while online poker has seen no tangible benefits. (Image:

Many had hoped that the inevitable spread of sports betting would also allow online poker to piggyback on that success, with states passing legislation that allowed for internet gambling in addition to sportsbooks.

Casinos, Not Poker Rooms, Converting Sports Bettors

So far, however, that hasn’t panned out in most cases. Sure, Pennsylvania will allow for online poker, but that was already in play before the PASPA repeal. And while it’s nice that West Virginia recently legalized online poker along with other internet casino games, it’s hard to say that sports betting – which was legalized earlier in the state – had much to do with that decision.

Even the new customers that are being brought in by sports wagering don’t seem to be taking much of an interest in poker. In New Jersey, online casino revenues have gone through the roof since mobile sports betting was launched last year, a product of linkage between the sportsbooks and their associated casino products.

But poker sites haven’t been a part of that bonanza. In New Jersey, while online slots and table games saw a 64 percent increase in year-over-year revenues in April, online poker was actually down just over five percent when compared to the same month in 2018.

There are external factors that are a part of the problem. Most notably, the recent Wire Act reinterpretation could mean the end of intrastate online poker networks, which will be a big blow to an already struggling sector. But even considering that, it’s clear that while PASPA has been a boon for sports betting and the gaming industry as a whole, poker hasn’t come along for the ride.

Sportsbooks Celebrate PASPA Anniversary

On the other hand, the first year after PASPA has been an unmitigated success for the sports betting world. There are already more than a dozen states that have laws on the books allowing for sports betting, and eight that are actively taking bets. Just in the past week, the governors of Indiana and Iowa have signed new laws that will allow for sports wagering to be regulated in those states, while Tennessee legislators have passed their own bill that appears headed to approval without the signature of the governor.

The anniversary of PASPA’s demise didn’t go without note in the sports betting industry. DraftKings Sportsbook in New Jersey offered a range of different offers to mark what they called “Free to Bet Day,” including a free $5.14 wager and thematic odds boosts, including odds of +514 on the Golden State Warriors – who were a favorite against the field before the boost – to win the NBA Championship.

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