Online Poker Bill in Mississippi Dead for 2015

Online Poker Bill in Mississippi Dead for 2015Mississippi has been crossed off the list of states that could possibly enact online poker legislation in 2015.

House Bill 306 met an early and unceremonious death after being proposed in mid-January by Rep. Bobby Moak. The tenacious lawmaker has been trying for a few years to push across online gambling bills and this year will not be the one in which he succeeds either.

Moak knew that his Mississippi Lawful Internet Gaming Act of 2015 stood very little chance of finding favor among fellow lawmakers, but he proposed it anyway in hopes of keeping the lines of communication open. We can expect Moak to pursue the matter again next year.

When he does, let’s hope that Moak will modify the proposal by deleting the clause that makes it a crime for Mississippi residents to play at unregulated sites. That was a new provision in this year’s measure, and one that did not go over well with online poker players.

While Moak continues to try expanding gambling in the Magnolia State to include the Internet, gaming offerings actually contracted due to two casino closings last year. The state is beginning to feel the effects of perhaps having too many casinos, as well as facing competition from neighboring states.

Other States with Pending Bills

The states of Washington and California still have poker bills on the table in their respective 2015 legislative sessions. Whether there will be movement remains to be seen.

Washington is the only state that currently carries criminal penalties for playing online poker. Rep. Sherry Appleton’s House Bill 1114 would put an end to that.

California has two ipoker bills pending, both very different in terms of language. Moak mentioned that if the nation’s largest state were to finally adopt online poker regulations, lawmakers in other smaller states such as Mississippi would develop heightened interest.

Election Year Doldrums

It’s difficult to get lawmakers interested in an election year, which is 2015 for Mississippi. Legislators simply choose to stay away from gambling-related issues when their offices may be on the line.

Also seen as a drawback were the slow starts of the igaming regimes in Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey. Nevada already suffered the closing of one online poker site and New Jersey revenue totals were dismal compared to projections.

It’s not a stretch to think that lawmakers in many states, Mississippi included, would much rather wait and see how the situation in the regulated states plays out. Unfortunately, 2015 may go by without new igaming legislation in any more states.

Jacqueline Packett
Jacqueline Packett