Advocates of US online poker legalization as well as online poker operators are disappointed with figures related to online poker revenues in the three US states that have legalized and regulated the game—Delaware, New Jersey, and Nevada. The disappointment is because the tax revenues are much lower that the figures projected initially.
The projections were made after taking into consideration the revenue generated by the activities of poker players in Delaware, New Jersey, and Nevada at offshore online poker sites. Those who made the projections failed to realize that these revenue figures were because of liquidity. Before Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey legalized online poker, residents of these states could just download the software of offshore online poker rooms and play with hundreds and thousands of players from different parts of the world, 24 hours per day and 365 days per year.
Although Delaware and Nevada have signed a liquidity-sharing pact, New Jersey has not yet done so. Since lack of liquidity gives rise to fewer options, the number of residents playing poker in these three states is far lesser than the number playing at offshore online poker rooms before the three states legalized the game.
The online poker industry can survive only if it gets plenty of players. The same holds true for live poker. Just as a live poker game is no fun if there are just four or five participants, online poker does not work if it does not have enough players even if a few states legalize and regulate it. The tables need to be full of players to guarantee interesting action. If these three states hesitate to merge player pools, the games will not attract enough players. As a result, poker revenue will continue to fall.
Those who support legalization of online poker want more US states to legalize the game. All eyes are now on California, which is home to over 38 million residents. However, legalized online poker will benefit only California if it refuses to merge player pools with New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware.
US online poker can thrive not only if more states legalize the game, but also if they agree to sign interstate compacts and merge player pools. This requires political leaders of various states to show some generosity, but if it happens, the US online poker industry can expand into international territories and US citizens can once again legally enjoy what they used to before Black Friday.