The new year is only two weeks old and already there are three online poker regulation proposals on the table in as many states.
California was first with a bill proposed by Assemblyman Mike Gatto [geolink href=”https://www.usafriendlypokersites.com/new-online-poker-bill-introduced-california/” title=”New Californian Online Poker Bill”]in December[/geolink]. Just days ago, Washington State Rep. Sherry Appleton [geolink href=”https://www.usafriendlypokersites.com/online-poker-bill-introduced-state-washington/” title=”Online Poker Bill Introduced Washington”]followed with an ipoker bill[/geolink] in her home state. And now, Mississippi Rep. Bobby Moak did the same, a measure that includes online casino games as well as poker.
Of the three, Moak is the lone lawmaker who is not a rookie in volleying online gambling legislation, having made attempts in years past. Unfortunately, Moak has admitted that he doesn’t expect his igaming endeavor to make much headway among his fellow legislators this year either.
The situation in the state of Washington is rather unique in that it is currently the only state that carries criminal penalties for online poker players. It’s a felony to fire up your computer, deposit and play at unregulated sites. Fortunately, the 2006 law that covers such nonsense has never been enforced by the authorities.
Appleton’s proposal would remove criminal sanctions and legalize Internet poker. But past history tells us that the first attempt at advancing online poker and gambling legislation is often not the last. Generally, it takes lawmakers time to debate and rewrite such legislation, so the odds of Washington’s ipoker proposal gaining traction this year are not entirely favorable.
California is seen as the state with the best chance of joining Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey this year. But Gatto’s proposal will also require plenty of debate, as many see AB 9 as a retread of past measures that landed in the muck.
Other States to Watch
Online poker advocates are certainly pleased that attempts at regulation are heating up. And there may be more on the way. Industry scuttlebutt has circulated indicating that New York may be next in line to consider the issue.
New York State is moving forward with land-based gaming expansion, as three new casino sites have been approved and should be welcoming gamblers sometime in 2016. Expanding further into online poker is not a stretch at all. Two bills were introduced in New York in 2014 but were not given much attention as the main focus was on awarding the new casinos to three bidders.
We can likely expect New York Assemblyman Gary Pretlow to introduce an ipoker bill this year, as he did in 2014. His colleagues may take it a bit more seriously in 2015 now that the bricks and mortar gambling situation has moved forward.
Pennsylvania is another state to keep an eye on. 2014 was a busy year for Keystone State lawmakers with regard to the online gambling issue. An igaming study was released, bills proposed, and hearings held. Another round will likely commence this year, and although lawmakers may still want to hold out a bit longer to “wait and see” how the industry shapes up, regulation may win out if the cards fall into place.