There have been some signs of online poker making something of a comeback throughout the United States. Most notable has been the clear spike in online poker interest during the pandemic. Some turned to the game merely as a way to entertain themselves at home; some sought it out as a means of digitally socializing with others; others even played poker for self-care. Altogether though, this activity amounted to very real upticks in gaming activity at poker apps and websites. It may not sustain as the worst of the pandemic ebbs away, but it’s unlikely to dissipate entirely also.
Also of note is that this pandemic-fueled spike in activity came on the heels of expanding legalization of real poker websites across portions of the U.S. As of this writing, states with legal online poker now include Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, with additional states working toward joining in. That batch may account for only 10% of American states, but it still represents significant progress toward the return of the online poker industry.
What might ultimately speed up that return, however, is the ongoing growth of cryptocurrency. The emergence of this digital asset class has already had ramifications across numerous facets of society, and there are now clear ways in which it can play a key role in online poker as well.
Circumventing the Law
Recent decisions regarding obscure legislation that has largely been used to justify restrictions on internet poker may have made it easier for states to consider direct legalization. Basically, the government determined that the Wire Act (the legislation in question) is meant to refer to sports betting, but not necessarily other forms of gambling. Even now though, legal interpretations regarding online poker are something of a tangled mess. Cryptocurrency, however, may be able to help some poker providers circumvent that mess. The basic thinking is that there are ways of reading poker restrictions such that they apply to ordinary money, but not cryptocurrency. Thus, it’s possible we could see a rise in crypto poker platforms even in states that haven’t legalized online poker yet.
Establishing Trendy Platforms
Regarding the point above, it is also likely that if crypto poker platforms do emerge, there will be a certain trendy quality to them. There’s been a lot of buzz in the past couple of years about crypto- and blockchain-driven gaming networks online, and if anything U.S.-based crypto poker sites would probably only heighten that buzz. Cryptocurrency is, for lack of a better word, cool, and this would play a role in making related poker sites and apps appealing to potential users.
Tapping Into The Crypto Public
As we have made note of, the crypto market is growing. There are more investors, higher market caps, new cryptos, and even fresh incentives for interest (such as better regulation, greater familiarity with exchanges and wallets, and more visibility). This all amounts to a rapidly expanding population of people who are interested and/or invested in cryptocurrency in one way or another. Many within this population are always keen to explore new avenues for crypto use, and would therefore be likely to take an interest in crypto-related online poker opportunities. By no means does this mean everyone in the “crypto public” will start using digital assets for online poker. But there would inevitably be some crossover, which only enhances the potential of an internet poker comeback in the U.S.
Enhancing Existing Poker Sites
For the most part, the previous points concerned the emergence of new, cryptocurrency-based poker gaming options. At the same time however, increasing crypto activity in this space will likely lead to enhancement of existing sites and apps as well. Poker platforms that already exist, and in some cases already operate in the U.S., will explore the acceptance of cryptocurrency. In doing so, they too will establish trendy appeal and open themselves to the crypto public.
U.S. online poker is already enjoying a comeback, and may see further growth without any help from cryptocurrency. It is quite clear given the ideas above, however, that crypto has the potential to help with the revival.