When Pennsylvania officially became the fourth US state to legalize online gambling last month, it immediately spawned great interest in which state will be next.

Several states are considering or have considered joining Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada in legalizing online gambling in one form or another in 2017, including:

  • California
  • New York
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • New Hampshire
  • West Virginia

While it appears none of these seven states will get online gambling laws on the books this year, they would have to be considered the favorites to be the next do so. The question is: Will they go as far as Pennsylvania has?

PA’s comprehensive gambling expansion

Online gambling laws passed in PA as a part of a comprehensive gambling expansion package. The new law makes it legal to operate online slot machines, online table games and online poker throughout the state.

Plus, the other gambling expansion initiatives attached include:

Since it first approved the operation of slot machines in 2004 and table games in 2010, PA has grown into the second largest casino revenue generating state in the country, next to Nevada. In fact, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board claims the state’s 10 stand-alone and racetrack casinos, and two smaller resort casinos, generate close to $1.4 billion in tax revenue from slot machines and table games annually.

The new gambling expansion initiatives, including PA internet gambling, are aimed at growing that number exponentially.

The big dollar figures PA gambling is already pumping out, and the new ones the state is hoping to create, may be extremely attractive to lawmakers from other states.

However, it’s doubtful they’ll want to follow Pennsylvania’s lead in such a comprehensive manner.

Which states will be next to legalize online gambling?

California

Up to now, California has only considered standalone legislation for online poker. Plus, it has been such a contentious issue with so many different stakeholders, including dozens of card room operators and tribal casinos, the state has failed to come to any kind of consensus as to how it will work.

Adding further gambling expansion initiatives to the mix would only confuse things further.

New York

On the other side of the country, New York appears poised to get online gambling legislation on the books next year. Bills brought to the floor this year will get a head start in 2018 thanks to changes in legislative procedures in the state. However, these are online poker-only bills, and lawmakers in the state are committed to a step-by-step approach when it comes to gambling. So that would likely rule out any kind of comprehensive expansion.

Plus, NY just expanded gambling in the state by issuing its first four commercial casino licenses. Further gambling expansion will likely have to wait until the state has seen the impact of all that.

Illinois

Illinois was looking at bills that would legalize online gambling, poker and daily fantasy sports. The session just ended without any movement on that legislation.

Further gambling expansion beyond those products is doubtful. Plans to build a casino in the city of Chicago have been so contentious over the years, they stall everything.

Michigan

Michigan is also considering online casino and poker legislation. However, the state already runs online lottery sales and isn’t looking at any further gambling expansion besides online casinos.

Massachusetts

In the meantime, the construction of two commercial casinos is underway Massachusetts. As a result, it looks like that state will be waiting to see the impact of of these properties before going online.

New Hampshire and West Virginia

The bills put forward in New Hampshire and West Virginia are also online gambling-only. In fact, these bills aren’t likely to be attached to any kind of further gambling expansion.

PA stands alone

It’s highly likely that one of these seven states will become the fifth in the country to pass some form of online gambling legislation in the very near future. However, it’s just as likely that fifth state to pass online gambling legislation will not do anything like the comprehensive gambling expansion seen in PA. Unless some state comes out of nowhere to surprise everyone, that is.

Martin Derbyshire

Martin Derbyshire

Martin Derbyshire has spent more than a decade traveling the globe in his capacities as a reporter, editor, and video producer in the world of high stakes poker and gambling. He covers the industry for a variety of publications, including USPoker.com, PlayUSA.com, and PlayPA.com.