For quite a while now, online poker has been prohibited in much of the United States. However, due to a difference in opinion about something called the Wire Act, it is believed that the newly elected Biden administration might actually help to pave the way for a comeback.
A write-up by Jurist.org explains that the Wire Act dates back to 1961, and prohibits interstate wagering on “sporting events and contests.” Under the Trump administration, the U.S. Department of Justice interpreted this language to refer to all kinds of betting activity (possibly as a result of pressure from Trump donor and online betting opponent Sheldon Adelson). However, now-President Biden indicated as a candidate that he would be inclined to hold to an earlier court opinion that the Wire Act referred only to sports betting.
Should the DOJ under Biden feel the same way, it would potentially clear the way for states to establish online gaming businesses, and a numbers of places that have long debated internet poker might finally have it. This would be an incredible step forward for the industry in the U.S. But it also has us wondering what said industry would need to do in order to thrive with an American audience that is not accustomed to much in the way of online casino gaming.
Online poker sites in the U.S. will inevitably be welcoming a lot of fairly new players. Because of this, they should make it a priority to provide some basic education about how exactly poker works. This is actually something some respected sites do already. Most platforms have a section explaining the basic rules of the game, and Poker.org goes as far as to provide a handy resource ranking the strength of different hands and answering some common player questions. Features like these — along with some free- or cheap-play options aimed at beginners or casual players — help to make a poker site more welcoming and accessible to newcomers. They’ll be crucial in the U.S. market.
Employ Themes & Graphics
For serious poker players, not much is needed in the way of atmosphere. In fact, sometimes the simplest digital poker environments, without the bells and whistles, are the best at actually providing a sound gaming experience. But U.S. gamers are primarily used to mobile and console games. They’re accustomed to colorful characters, detailed environments, and generally robust sensory experiences. This doesn’t mean new poker sites will have to have over-the-top visuals, but a little bit of consideration for atmosphere will go a long way.
Offer Multiple Activities
One of the best chances Americans have had to play poker in a modern video game of late has been through the “Diamond Casino & Resort” that exists within the game Grand Theft Auto V. And as was noted in a GamesRadar review of this in-game casino just after it was opened, one of the draws for players was the variety of activities. Now, within GTA V, these activities include things that go well beyond actual casino games. However, it was noted that the Diamond Casino & Resort opened with poker, roulette, and blackjack, as well as digital slot machines. By contrast, poker platforms in the U.S. will likely focus primarily on Texas Hold’Em poker, which is the most familiar variety of the game to Americans. But a few variations, potentially with activities like blackjack or digital roulette as well, would likely appeal to players, just as it has within GTA V.
Provide Diverse Deposit Options
Another issue for online poker in the U.S. will be that Americans by and large aren’t used to having the opportunity to play games for real money. Many will embrace that opportunity. But to make things easier and more appealing on this front, poker platforms would do well to provide a diverse range of deposit options. This means welcoming major credit cards, transfers though payment processors like PayPal, and possibly even cryptocurrency. As stated in our post ‘Why Should I Play at a Bitcoin Casino?’ there is actually growing popularity around the world for crypto casinos. Ultimately, making a range of options available simply makes it easier for new players to handle money however they’re most comfortable doing so.
Finally, online poker providers in the U.S. should (and undoubtedly will) prioritize superior mobile offerings. Mobile play is already extraordinarily popular in places where online casino gaming is more widely legal, and Americans spend a lot of time on mobile games as is. Any online platform should thus be built such that it is accessible, smooth, and enjoyable via phones and tablets.