Much has happened on the road to regulating online gambling and Internet poker in the U.S. in recent weeks. And all eyes are on the District of Columbia, which has surprised everyone by announcing new online gambling laws.

D.C. gets there first
The big news being trumpeted by all facets of mainstream media is that the first state to legalize and regulate online poker in the U.S. isn’t really a state at all. It’s the District of Columbia.

Every major media source — and we mean every — has picked up this story. Though many of them are carrying the Associated Press version, which explains that the law was actually written into the 2011 budget, and lawmakers have run out of time to object to it:

“Permitting the online games was part of the 2011 budget and a 30-day period for Congress to object expired last week,” writes Eric Tucker in the Associated Press report.

The bill has already “cleared the congressional approval process” and doesn’t need any further approval from lawmakers or committees. But those celebrating a new online gambling framework should be cautious — details of how the district’s online gambling would be implemented are still unclear.

What the law does is give the D.C. Lottery the ability to administer “games of skill and games of chance,” per the Washington City Paper.  But Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said that he didn’t personally know how close the new regulations were to implementation, but “Assuming it’s implemented, it would become a part of our lottery program and could generate additional resources for the District of Columbia as we continue to support ourselves.”

For example, it’s not yet known how online poker will fit into picture. And the regulations have to work within the UIGEA, meaning they can only offer online gambling services to residents of D.C., making sure other neighboring areas aren’t using the services, too.

But it’s been established, apparently, that “players will have to bring their laptops to designated hot spots to get dealt in,” notes NBC Washington. “The city will be setting up these hot spots in stores, bars, and other locations.”

Progress in Nevada, too
And in Nevada, a legislative panel has amended and approved a bill that will allow “the Nevada Gaming Commission to begin drafting rules to regulate online poker,” reports CBS Las Vegas, “but stipulates that Internet gambling would not be implemented until sanctioned by Congress or the Justice Department.”

The bill now moves to the assembly floor. But it might be already dead, since the governor doesn’t support it and will presumably veto it.

Florida and Hawaii online gambling bills dead
In related news, bills to regulate online gambling in Florida and Hawaii have reportedly died. The Florida bill failed to pass the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, and the Hawaii bill didn’t reach a vote before last Friday’s deadline. In Hawaii, that means that traditional poker games are still illegal, too.


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