According to the weekly PokerScout Scouting Report, a state you probably wouldn’t expect led the U.S. in terms of online poker participation rate at 0.97% before Black Friday. The state we’re looking for: New Hampshire. That’s right, a state with a scant population of 1.3 million roasted the competition according to a six-month study conducted by PokerScout in 2009 and 2010.

According to PokerScout, New Hampshire’s online poker participation rate of nearly 1% was nearly double the U.S. average. Just behind New Hampshire was Nevada, which as we saw in last week’s update from PokerScout was king in rake per player and the only state that currently offers legal online poker. Then, a series of Northern states followed suit: Alaska, North Dakota, Massachusetts, Maine, Arkansas, Vermont, Minnesota, and Colorado. Only two of those – Arkansas and Colorado – are positioned below the Mason-Dixon Line.

Why the propensity for states further north and east to have a higher participation rate in online poker? Why wouldn’t southern and western states appear on the list with a higher frequency? PokerScout explained, “Harsh winters seem to be a major factor in raising participation rates. The northern states of Alaska, North Dakota, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, and Minnesota all scored highly. This could help to explain the enthusiasm for online poker in Russia and Scandinavia.” When it’s cold outside, playing online poker in the warmth of your house could be the ideal way to spend a Sunday.

As it currently stands, only Nevada has legalized and regulated real money online poker. Its lone entrant into the market is Ultimate Poker, although rumors are flying that (Caesars Entertainment), Real Gaming (South Point), and AcePlay (Stratosphere) could all come online in the near future.

Out East, Delaware and New Jersey will likely launch their online gaming sites in October and November, respectively. Delaware’s three licensed brick-and-mortar casinos have been driving players to a free-to-play site run through Facebook in recent weeks, while New Jersey’s gaming operations should fire up around Thanksgiving.

New Hampshire is just the 42nd largest state by population and 46th by area. Rockingham Park, a track in Salem, is home to a live poker room. Its lottery offers Powerball and MegaMillions, both multi-state games, along with an online second chance drawing for scratch-off tickets.

PokerScout’s Scouting Report is a daily newsletter for the online poker industry, with in-depth data and analysis of the market. More information can be found by clicking here or contacting

Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.