New Jersey online gambling sites are setting new records this year, averaging $20 million a month in revenue. However, less than 10 percent of that revenue comes from online poker.

In Nevada, online poker numbers spike during the annual World Series of Poker. This is partly due to the WSOP.com Nevada poker site offering online satellites into live WSOP events and online WSOP bracelet events of its own.

However, throughout the rest of the year, the numbers aren’t all that impressive. In Delaware, the third state with legal and regulated online poker, the market is too small to count.

Alas, two things happened last month that have renewed hope the online poker market in the US can be revitalized.

NJ signs interstate online poker agreement

First, New Jersey signed on to an agreement to share player pools with Nevada and Delaware. Those two states have already been operating under a similar agreement since 2015. However, hope for growth in online poker lies in the size of the New Jersey market, which is potentially twice that of the other two states.

Once sites can get the necessary regulatory approval and start sharing player pools across all three states, the number of cash games and tournament prize pools should rise exponentially. That, in turn, could draw an even bigger number of players back to the online game.

PA’s comprehensive gambling expansion

But the second and biggest thing to happen for online poker in the US last month was Pennsylvania joining the mix.

As a part of a comprehensive gambling expansion bill passed by lawmakers, Pennsylvania legalized online poker last month. The potential market in PA is even bigger than New Jersey. The state will likely open up PA-only online poker sites at the outset, but the legislation passed allows it to join the interstate agreement with New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware in the future.

If and when PA signs that agreement, it could potentially double the size of the existing US online poker market. Those kind of numbers will certainly help propel online poker in the US, but there’s more to it as well.

In fact, the Keystone State could be the key to unlocking online poker legislation in other states. It may even create a cascade across the country that grows the legal and regulated US online poker market by leaps and bounds.

The list of states already considering online gambling or online poker legislation is already a big one, and it’s growing all the time. It includes:

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

With a large state like Pennsylvania now on board, these states are going to have an increasingly difficult time ignoring online poker as a potential source of revenue. Plus, other states on the sidelines could move to jump in the game as well.

Is New York next?

The closest state to passing online poker legislation on the list may be New York. Online poker legislation has passed through one branch of the state legislature the past two years. But it has died on the floor of the other.

However, new legislative procedures in the state will see NY online poker legislation begin where it left off in 2018. That should give it  more time, and an even better chance of passing.

If a state with close to 13 million people like PA can help move New York towards online poker legislation, imagine what New York and its almost 20 million people can do for the rest of the country. In fact, if New York falls, most of the rest of the country can’t really be far behind.

Building up US online poker through satellites

US online poker operators are already doing everything they can to revive the game stateside.

A number of offshore sites that used to operate in the US built up the original online poker market through offering online satellites to live events. Now, sites like PokerStars and playMGM are trying to follow that same path in New Jersey.

PokerStars NJ offered at least one satellite to its popular PokerStars Caribbean Adventure event in the Bahamas this year. Meanwhile, playMGM has been running a series of online satellites into a World Poker Tour event in Las Vegas.

Plus, the WSOP.com satellites into live WSOP bracelet events are among that site’s most popular and are growing every year.

Live poker events have grown in PA over the past few years. The Big Stax series at Parx is increasing in popularity and the annual WSOP Circuit event at Harrah’s Philadelphia is well-attended. It’s easy to see how PA online poker sites might look to the local satellite market as a way of growing from the ground up.

It’s also easy to see how if all goes according to plan, PA will soon be seen as the catalyst for re-energizing the online poker market across the US.

Image credit: Willrow Hood / Shutterstock.com

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.