The US online poker scene seems to be dying a slow but sure death. It is no secret that things are not as they used to be just a couple of years ago. If the revenue numbers from New Jersey are anything to go by, something needs to be done fast. The numbers dropped by more than 18% from 2017. Pennsylvania joined three other states in legalizing online poker and the spotlight is on it to revive online poker in the United States.
Gov. Wolf signed the bill, also known as H 271, on October, 2017 after both the house and the senate passed it. The bill also included online lottery, video gambling terminals, tablet gaming and 10 satellite casinos. Pennsylvania is one of the biggest casino states, only second to Nevada. It only made sense that they regulate online poker so as to remain competitive. The state was also faced by a budget deficit of $2 billion in 2017 and one of the most attractive solutions appeared to be the regulation of online gambling. This would help the state government earn more revenue without having to impose additional taxes on the citizens.
According to the bill, all online poker players needed to be at least 21 years old. It also allows for player pools with different states. To be sure that players are actually in Pennsylvania, the poker sites use geolocation services. Players that are found to be outside Pennsylvania are not to be allowed to take part in real money games. The operators are required to pay a 16 percent tax on gross revenue. There are three forms of licensing fees that are required to play; house-banked games, online slots and online poker and other peer-to-peer games. The state has already begun issuing licenses and people are waiting to see how interstate poker between Pennsylvania and other states such as Nevada and New Jersey will affect the online poker scene.
The state has 13 online poker licenses one for each of the casinos that already exist and the rest for future ones. To have a better impact on the online poker scene, Pennsylvania should focus more on interstate agreements than on its own games even though it does not really need to join other states because of its online poker population. So, could Pennsylvania bring life to the US online poker scene? Yes. It could in the long-term. The state has enough players to create a better incentive to play and create bigger prize pools and longer time-frames of dense activity. That should be enough to eventually motivate other states to join. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania’s casino owners do not put too much emphasis on online poker. They are more concerned with opportunities for making money. To be honest, online poker is not that opportunity at the moment. In fact, it could take a while before operators start making huge profits from online poker. Fortunately, there are a few brands that only concern themselves with online poker. They give online poker a better chance for success.
If it hopes to make any real impact, Pennsylvania needs to understand that online poker changes very fast. What works today may not necessarily work tomorrow, or even the next hour. They should, therefore, try out creative, new ideas every chance they get to keep it interesting. Perhaps, the biggest problem that faces poker is that it has become a little too boring. The excitement over the internet has long passed and not many people find live games as interesting as they once did. What remains is for online poker operators to give people a reason to keep playing and to attract those that haven’t started yet. They should be able to try to find out new customer needs and expectations. While on this, they should note that today’s customer is not necessarily tomorrow’s. The Pennsylvania online poker industry needs to avoid viewing players as just some commodities to make money from. They should, instead, view them as actual human beings with different hopes for poker. This means catering for customers of all needs including; those who only play for fun and those who play professionally to earn income. Most players only play for fun. Unfortunately, they are the hardest to retain. Targeting them will obviously be a win win for everyone. It will keep customers satisfied while generating more income for online operators. This does not mean that the professional ones should be ignored. They are the people that will teach future generations how to play poker and therefore keep poker alive. One of the causes for decline in online poker is the fact that winning can be really hard. People that are looking to make a living are obviously repulsed by this.
If Pennsylvania online poker operators find a way to make players forget that they may be losing money, then they will be able to retain the professional players. To others, it is more about the competitiveness of the game than actual winning. They should, therefore, be able to provide gaming experiences that are interesting, competitive and engaging. This will help bring back the love of online poker. While it would be unrealistic to imagine that the online poker scene will be revived just because Pennsylvania joined in, it is also unlikely that it will collapse completely if Pennsylvania does not do well. The goal is just to make things a little better. If the online poker operators of Pennsylvania actually pay attention to detail and try as much as possible to prioritize the needs of customers over their own, they could revive the American online poker scene.
2018 seems to be a big year for Pennsylvania’s gambling scene. Apart from online poker, they state is also looking forward to the construction of a live casino, the issuance of PGCB daily fantasy licenses and the rolling out of video gaming terminals. It is only a matter of time before the results of all these leaps in the gambling field start to show.