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Why Poker Players Await U.S. Sports Betting Decision

Poker Chris Christie NCAA United States Supreme Court

Sports fans anxiously await the decision from the United States Supreme Court in Christie v. NCAA. Casinos, online betting operators and numerous other business interests watch for the outcome as well.

And as unlikely as it may seem, the poker-playing community is keenly interested, too, according to LegalUSPokersites.com, a site monitoring the U.S. poker scene.

Poker players paid little attention when the case started in 2012 with a lawsuit filed by the NCAA against New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. While they were interested in sports and betting, and the case was intriguing, it had little impact on the poker community that had just suffered through Black Friday.

Many players had money tied up in sites like Full Tilt Poker and UltimateBet, which were penniless and defunct, and poker pros were trying to figure out how to make a living without access to sites like PokerStars.

Meanwhile, many major U.S. sports leagues joined the suit to stop the first state to launch a serious challenge to the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992, and New Jersey refused to back down.

Supreme Court decision due any day

Christie believed his state had the right to authorize sports betting. The case was appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which heard arguments in late 2017 and will render its decision any day.

Those fighting for the right to play online poker in the U.S. – on the state level as permitted by a 2011 Department of Justice decision regarding the Wire Act – were discovering the importance of states’ rights. The comparisons to the PASPA case caught players’ attention.

Further, poker fans discovered that states were much more willing to consider sports betting bills and even legalize sports betting in anticipation of the Supreme Court decision than they were to legalize online poker.

According to a recent Poker Players Alliance survey of its members, the vast majority (92 percent) support the ability of states to legalize sports betting, and most (62 percent) believe legalized sports betting will have a positive impact on the pursuit of legal online poker.

The competitive nature of poker players and their interest in a broader base of legalized internet gambling ties the community tightly with sports bettors.

Poker players, by nature, see the long-term goals and know that a positive sports betting decision for bettors could significantly influence lawmakers to reconsider their arguments against online poker.

They have exercised patience and waited for that premium hand. The Christie case may not be pocket aces, but it is a winner.

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