Ten states that should have online gaming

6 May 2013
Last week, the first online gaming site regulated within the United States opened for business when Ultimate Poker accepted its first real-money bet in Nevada. And with New Jersey and Delaware working on finalizing their online gambling regulations, it won't be long before more Americans have the opportunity to play online games for real money in a state-regulated environment.
Several additional states are considering online gambling legislation, and it likely won't be long before other states follow Nevada's lead. Here are the 10 states that should be the first to offer online gambling -- or offer more online gaming.
10. Washington
Washington's population (6.7 million, as of the 2010 census) ranks 13th nationally, but perhaps more importantly, Washington is a state that has embraced the gambling industry. The state ranks fourth nationally with 134 gambling establishments, according to Casino City data. While the Evergreen State has historically been hostile to online gambling, including a draconian law that makes playing online poker a Class C felony, there have been recent signs that things could change.
9. Indiana
Indiana is one of the smaller states to make this list, ranking 16th in population (6.5 million). But the state has a long-standing gambling industry, with 11 commercial casinos and two racinos. And while the Hoosier State is one of the more conservative states in the nation, don't rule out a revenue grab with online gambling legislation. The state is now seeing lower revenues thanks to increased competition from Ohio casinos.
8. Nevada
On the surface, Nevada seems like it should be at the top of this list. But with just 2.7 million residents (36th nationally), Nevada doesn't have the population to support a thriving online poker network. And considering that's all that Nevada currently allows, it's hard to see how online gambling firms are going to make much money in the Silver State.
While Nevada's current regulations allow non-residents to play real-money games online, how many tourists are really coming to Nevada to gamble online when there are brick-and-mortar options readily available?
That said, Nevada's history as a gaming state does put it in a position to be an authority. Surely states will learn a great deal from Nevada's initial foray into the online gambling industry. So it makes sense for Nevada to allow its residents and visitors to play the full suite of casino games online.
7. Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania has recently discovered what a boon the casino industry can be to state revenues. The commonwealth passed gambling legislation nearly 10 years ago, and the first casino opened in 2007. Last year, casino gambling brought in nearly $1.5 billion in tax revenue. So it's no surprise that state legislators are considering online gambling legislation.
And with 12.7 million residents, ranking sixth nationally, online gambling makes perfect sense in the Keystone State.
6. New Jersey
With Atlantic City casinos reeling from the economic downturn and increased competition from Pennsylvania and other nearby states, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie finally bowed to pressure from the state legislature to regulate the online gambling industry earlier this year.
And New Jersey could be a real leader in the industry. With a population of 8.8 million (ranked 11th nationally), the state could bring in some serious revenues. And Christie's goal of reviving Atlantic City could be reached, especially if online poker really takes hold and sites use their online product to promote their brick-and-mortar rooms.
5. Florida
The fourth-largest state in the U.S. with 18.8 million residents, Florida also has a rich tradition in the gaming industry, ranking third nationally with 136 gaming establishments, including a number of Indian casinos and cruise ships that depart from the Florida coast. A booming poker industry in Florida holds huge potential for the online industry, and online bingo could really take off with an aging population.
4. Illinois
Chicago winters are cold. And if you have any sense, you really don't want to go outside. Much better to plunk down a few bets for your entertainment than to go outside and risk frostbite. And the population of 12.8 million (fifth nationally) is enough to make running online games profitable.
3. New York
Ranked third nationally with a population of 19.4 million, New York is currently in the process of expanding its land-based casino gambling industry. Several sites are being considered for new properties, and New York City's first casino, the Resorts World Casino, opened just 18 months ago.
With people making billion-dollar bets on Wall Street, it seems silly that New York should bar people from making a $10 bet on an online blackjack game.
2. Texas
It's probably a long way from happening in this red state, but how can the home of Texas Hold'em not allow Texas Hold'em games online? Texas is the second-large state in the union both in terms of area and population (25.1 million). It won't be a leader in this department, but it should be.
1. California
Our nation's most populous state (37.3 million) may be the only state in the union that could put together a poker network large enough to meet the demands of most of its players. And it's not as if California is prudish when it comes to gambling; the state ranks second nationally with 178 gaming establishments.
There are signs that the deadlock seen on this issue in recent years may be getting less severe. And if the cards fall just right in California, you can expect a number of other states to follow suit quickly.

Aaron Todd

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Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.