State of Online Gambling in the US: 9 Potential Candidates

legal-pokerPart 3 of Bluff’s ongoing look at the current state of online gambling in the United States continues with a look at nine states where online gambling legislation is a possibility or where online gambling could be considered.

None of these states are likely to pass online gambling legislation in the next couple years, but these are the states that could be part of the second or third wave on online gaming expansion in the U.S.

These states have all the ingredients for iGaming expansion, they just don’t know if they want it yet.

This four part series will cover the state of online gambling in all 50 states, including:

  1. The seven states where online gaming is legal or approval is imminent
  2. The eight states currently thought to be considering online gaming expansion
  3. The reasons why nine states may consider expanding into online gaming in the near future
  4. The reasons why 26 states are unlikely to pass online gaming laws

Colorado

Colorado is an interesting contender for iGaming expansion. On one hand the state has the most liberal marijuana laws in the country, and thus far their decision to legalize the sale of pot has worked out pretty well.

Colorado has also toyed with iGaming expansion back in 2012 when the Colorado Gaming Association created a bill draft. A second attempt was in the works, but never introduced, as recently as last year.

However, former Colorado Attorney General John Suthers issued a formal statement, where he indicated that passing a bill would not be enough, as the state’s Constitution would need to be rewritten to allow for iGaming.

Colorado voters also rejected a ballot initiative that would have expanded land-based gaming at racetracks in the state in 2014; a rejection that could be used by opposition to forces to demonstrate the voters are not interested in expanded gaming.

It seems like iGaming expansion will be a tough road to hoe in the Centennial State.

Connecticut

There has been very little official iGaming talk coming out of Connecticut, but the state has a very good reason to eye online gaming expansion considering their two casinos, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, are about to get some serious competition from Massachusetts and New York.

If Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods are going to survive, iGaming may be just what the Dr. ordered in Connecticut.

The problem is selling it to the legislature and the general public. Connecticut’s casinos, once among the most profitable in the world, have fallen on hard times in recent years, and the idea that online gambling is what is needed may not sit well with lawmakers and the two tribes who currently control gaming in the state – they have plans of their own, and these plans don’t seem to include online gambling.

Iowa

Iowa is a random state that has randomly looked at online gambling (in 2012 and 2013).

This may be surprising considering the state’s social conservative leanings and reputation, but like Mississippi, Iowa seems to understand the benefits of gaming, considering the state is dotted with 20+ casinos, and on top of online poker talk in 2012 and 2013, a state lawmaker is also trying to legalize Daily Fantasy Sports in Iowa this year, and the bill is making some headway.

Maryland

At this time Maryland iGaming is little more than whispered hushes and backroom talks, but the state has all the right ingredients to eventually give iGaming a serious look:

  1. A strong Brick & Mortar gaming industry
  2. An open-minded lottery director in Steve Martino
  3. A population of 6 million with the highest average income in the United States

Oregon

Oregon is another pretty progressive state that could quickly take up the iGaming issue if they were so inclined. Problem is, there has been nary a whisper of online gambling coming to Oregon.

One interesting point of note is Oregon is one of only four states with a PASPA exemption, which could allow the state to add some sports-betting options to their online gaming platforms if lawmakers were so inclined.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island is an interesting case as well.

As the smallest state in the union, and one of the smallest population-wise, with just over 1 million residents, Rhode Island would have trouble sustaining a viable iGaming industry. That being said, if Rhode Island passed a comprehensive iGaming bill (including casino) and was willing to take only a small amount from iGaming operators, it could work – an interstate agreement would be mandatory for online poker.

Online gambling might be a ways off though, as Rhode Island is currently getting ready to turn Twin Rivers Casino (which just got the go ahead for table games in 2012) into a full-fledged resort casino, as the state has approved the addition of a hotel to the casino.

Virginia

Virginia is a lot like Maryland, but the state is more heavily populated, but at the same time lacks the Brick & Mortar infrastructure of its neighbor Maryland.

The state did explore online lottery sales in early 2015, but the bill eventually died. For online gaming to get a look it would likely require neighboring states to have already passed online gambling laws of their own.

Washington State

Washington introduced an online poker bill in 2015, thanks to the tireless efforts of poker advocate Curtis Woodard. Unfortunately, the bill was eventually left for dead in the legislature.

Considering Washington State’s archaic online gaming laws, the state is a solid candidate for legislation as it would not only bring more revenue into the state’s coffers, but it would also do away with the unpopular law that makes playing online poker a crime.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin is an unlikely candidate for iGaming expansion as long as the state’s current Governor, Scott Walker, is still in office. That being said, Walker is one of the top tier Republican candidates for President in 2016, and a number of his policies (from union-busting to education cutting) have made him a polarizing figure in the very purple state.

Even if Walker doesn’t win the Presidency in 2016, the damage he might do to himself in his home state while trying to appeal to the Republican base may mean he will leave office after his second term expires in 2018, even though Wisconsin doesn’t impose term limits on their governors.

If online gaming does proliferate across the U.S. Wisconsin will likely be part of the second wave.

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