Online poker progress spreads across United States

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By Joel Gatlin

Ever since the DOJ ruling in December 2011, stating the 1961 Wire Act only had jurisdiction on sporting events and contests, the door swung open for states to allow regulated online poker within their borders. Since then, several states have announced intentions to investigate the potential revenue that this would bring into their coffers.

YEAS: The states that have written legislation (or who have started the process) to allow regulated online poker within their state lines are:

• Nevada: On Dec. 23, the Nevada Gaming Commission unanimously approved intrastate regulated online poker for the state. They are taking applications for licensed companies to run the online poker sites. They expect to have the first sites up and running by early 2013.

• California: The Internet Gambling Consumer Protection and Public-Private Partnership Act of 2012, better known as SB 1463, was proposed in February and is being considered by the state for approval. This bill focuses on player protection and the promise of more than $200 million in revenue to the state in the first year alone.

Also, bwin.party and the United Auburn Indian Community, which owns and operates the Thunder Valley Casino Resort near Sacramento, have entered into a formal agreement to offer online poker services in California if suitable intrastate legislation is enacted in the state.

• New Jersey: The New Jersey Internet Gaming Bill is scheduled for approval by the state legislature on May 31. Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a similar bill last year, but had changed his stance on this year’s bill and was expected to sign it. Then right up until Ante Up deadline reports indicated he might be wavering on this promise.

• Delaware: Gov. Jack Markell is in favor of the Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act of 2012, which is scheduled to be introduced to the Legislature in the form of a bill during this session. Since New Jersey is considering a similar bill, Delaware is trying to stay competitive and not lose those tax dollars.

NAYS: The states that had previously passed online legislation, or tried to, and failed are listed below:
• Iowa: In March, Senate File 2275, a bill to regulate online poker, was passed by the Senate, but failed to make the deadline for approval by the House.

Proponents of the bill are hopeful it will be addressed again later this year.

• Washington, D.C.: In 2011, the District of Columbia approved an online poker bill, but the bill was repealed in February, denying any hope for online poker there in the foreseeable future.

• Massachusetts: The state passed a bill last year that allowed for three brick-and-mortar land-based casinos, but an online bill didn’t get approved. All indications are it will be a while before online poker gets approved here.

• Hawaii: In March, representatives Joseph Souki, Faye Hanohano and Angus McKelvey tried to get an Internet Gambling Bill (HB 2422) passed through the Legislature, but it failed to pass the House. Hawaii and Utah are the only states that don’t allow any form of legalized gambling.

• Mississippi: The Mississippi Lawful Internet Gaming Act of 2012 (HB 1373), proposed in February by state Rep. Bobby Moak, failed to get through the House Ways and Means Committee in March. It hasn’t been announced if this will be reintroduced.

NOT JUST NAY, BUT HELL NAY: Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert signed the Anti-Online Gambling Bill HB 108 in March. The law states it’s illegal for “any person who knowingly transmits, receives, or relays any form of Internet or online gambling into or within this state.” Anyone who violates this law will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. The bill is scheduled to become law July 1. The law doesn’t stop there; it says the state is required to opt out of any federal legislation allowing online gambling. So, based on this legislation, Utah will never have legal online poker.

MAYBES: There are states open to considering regulated online poker in the not-to-distant future, including Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Ohio and Virginia. We’ll keep an eye on those and report any progress.

Moneymaker’s view

Chris Moneymaker was a recent guest on the Ante Up PokerCast, and the hosts asked him his thoughts on PokerStars and whether it will ever be back in the United States once online poker is regulated.
“Oh, for sure,” the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event champ said. “Online poker will be back in the U.S.; it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. There’s just too much money to be made. PokerStars, (with) the way they handled things, I think there’s a good chance they’ll be back in. I think it’s a wait-and-see type thing. I have 100 percent belief there will be (regulated) online poker (in the U.S.) and I have a very strong belief that PokerStars will be part of that landscape.”

With recent news the DOJ and PokerStars are working on a settlement, and predictions that PokerStars is planning to buy the assets of Full Tilt and repay those players, the prediction of Moneymaker may happen sooner than later.


— Email Joel Gatlin at editor@anteupmagazine.com.