There’s a bottomless pit of legislation in Washington these days, and presuming there is one, H.R. 2366 may occupy the abyss.
Congressman Joe Barton’s (R-Texas) bill, designed to legalize and regulate the online poker industry at a federal level, hasn’t made news in nearly two months and it’s unlikely it ever will.
Barney Frank’s (D-Mass.) 2009 bill, H.R 2267, contained language that forms the backbone to Barton’s legislation. It had 47 co-sponsors and was largely ignored in the House despite optimism that it could be passed.
No bill with language pertaining to online gaming regulation has ever been given an official vote on Capitol Hill.
Online poker advocates have made it clear — the ultimate goal is federal regulation and legalization.
That’s unlikely to happen anytime soon. It’s time to focus on more reasonable and expedient intrastate gaming options.
States have the authority to legalize and regulate online gaming on their own, and many are exploring the idea.
Last March, New Jersey had a bill (S490) pass through its stage of legislature as a means to bring added revenue to an ailing Atlantic City casino industry. It was vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie days before its legal implementation. Christie said it had too many loopholes, so it’s being restructured.
California has two bills on the books that are expected to get serious consideration in early 2012.
One bill (SB40) contains estimates of 1,300 created jobs and an annual fiscal impact hovering around $120 million.
A criticism to the bill is that the licenses come with a $5 million price tag and a $50 million prepayment deposit against future revenue, a number that only the largest gaming entities can afford.
However, the California Gaming Association, which represents more than 75 percent of the licensed card rooms throughout the state, fully endorses it.
“The potential legalization of online gaming in California will have a ripple effect throughout the state and around the world,” said Jon Richmond, CEO of Los Angeles-based U.S. Digital Gaming.
The grumble to intrastate poker regulation is that the games can be provided only to players living within its borders. If California were to regulate, a player in Texas would not be allowed to play.
That stinks for the Texan, but if there is a regulated federal future, California provides an excellent national template. The state is half the size of Germany with its 37 million residents, and player traffic would be high enough for a site to offer lots of poker options.
Nevada aims to beat California to the punch. It does, after all, have a reputation to uphold, and there is value in being first.
The state board of gaming control already has its proposed regulations drafted and has the ability to launch intrastate gaming with immediacy. The state seeks assurance from the U.S. Department of Justice that it’s permitted.
And if states do it profitably and regulate it properly, it won’t take long to notice at the federal level.
For any questions, concerns, or opinions, please email Chris Wilcox at firstname.lastname@example.org
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