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Poker popularity peaked in the 2000s and has yet to dip: the big poker guns still hit the tournament circuit and add to their collections of bracelets and winnings. The faces that change are the hopefuls: the amateurs who believe they have what it takes to go head-to-head against the veterans of the green felt.

When professional poker sailed into cyberspace, anyone with a PC could log on to a website and play for money. Many of these sites were unregulated, i.e. they operated above a lawful threshold. The average anonymous player could risk the entirety of his or her savings. There was no guaranteed payout due to any given site’s shadow status.

Right now, a whopping six percent of the Union participates in legal regulation of online poker play. Hazard a quick guess? Wrong: that adds up to three states. A follow-up guess usually, and correctly, identifies Nevada as one of the three. The others are Delaware and New Jersey.

Nevada: Web Land of All or Nothing

Nevada is naturally configured as a hub of the gambling sphere and its proponents. That hasn’t prevented the loss of one major gaming site, Ultimate Poker, which went offline in 2014. There are other options.

The World Series of Poker (WSOP) hosts WSOP.com, a legal, regulated poker play site for Nevada residents. It is also the largest. Traffic-wise, hours dictate that the number of players online will range from 150-300.

WSOP.com offers satellite events for players with small stacks to earn or win their way into an on-site tournament. The site extends participation from registrants at other Las Vegas casinos like the Rio. So far, web traffic has not been an issue for the site.

One other site within Nevada’s sanction is RealGaming.com. It’s a smaller site but its administration is optimistic about its future. The sentiment doesn’t draw attention from its noticeably low membership, which at best probably ranks in the dozens. It’s not altogether unsurprising with regard to the WSOP’s behemoth presence in the field. RealGaming.com is a licensee of South Point Hotel and Casino.

New Jersey: An Upcoming Leader in Online Poker

Believe it or not, New Jersey is a larger online poker market than Nevada. New Jersey also reined in a major Atlantic City casino as an affiliate. This partnership affords online players with security with vault-like integrity.

New Jersey averages nearly 2 million per month in total combined revenue from all four sites. One more site that awaits integration is PokerStars.com. Its approval pending a decision by New Jersey’s Gaming Enforcement Division will raise the monthly earning threshold by a significant margin.

US.888Poker.com and WSOP.com enjoy the greatest traffic and cash kitties. A daily average player tally is 150-plus. A peak player tally is upwards of 350.
BorgataPoker.com is named after the famous Borgata Casino which hosts regular tournaments. It shares a pool with another site called NJ.PartyPoker.com. Each site hosts between 120-300 players daily.

Delaware: Racing Time Online

Thanks to Delaware, a new word made into the English lexicon: racino. A racino is a hybrid venue that consists of a horse racing track and casino. Currently there are three racinos in the cities of Delaware Park, Harrington Raceway and Dover Downs.

All three racinos are sanctioned and regulated by the Delaware Lottery. All three offer online poker, too. 888 Holdings is Delaware’s appointed licensor through iPoker.com.

Once again, the WSOP has a presence. While Delaware shares players with the WSOP, it does not promote WSOP tournaments. Bureaucratic virtual red tape is kept to a minimum and allows Delaware to maintain a legal compact with Nevada for their online players.

The Point of Regulation

Regulation can be likened to a mentor or a chaperone. It keeps things in line and prevents things that shouldn’t happen from happening. Past occurrences with unregulated poker sites support this outlook.

In the past, many unregulated poker sites were forcibly shut down. It was the result of legal action against a site operating outside the mantle of fair play. Unfortunately, such actions also cost novice players — or experienced players ignorant of the risks involved — their bankrolls.

The most glaring example is the case of FullTiltPoker.com. Its membership sustained a collective loss of 400 million dollars. The tragedy is punctuated by the fact that the players’ purses originated with the parent organization of a site mentioned earlier called Poker Stars. Full Tilt Poker’s blanket action was theft at the most basic tenet. Poker Stars purchased FTP in a strategy for the latter to avoid prosecution by the US Dept. of Justice. Consider it the golden parachute effect applied to a gambling entity.

UltimateBet.com, AbsolutePoker.com and LockPoker.eu also shuttered their virtual rooms. All were unregulated. Their resultant bankruptcy cost their respective memberships many millions of dollars. Yet there was not a thing anyone could do except cry.

The point of regulation is that it protects the players. There is no community fund trunk within which monies by licensors, licensee and registrants are blended. Player money is separate and can be retrieved whenever he or she feels it is “Time to cash out!”

The operators of US-regulated poker websites report to the same authorities as operators of live casinos do. A player-initiated arbitration is no longer a thing of the past. Websites must maintain their firewalls and technological

Most importantly, the relationship between a state and the sites they regulate is a sound one. Tracking software requires verification before a player can proceed beyond the home page. That means players with registered addresses in Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada — and those states only can play until more states join the fun.