Last week, we took a look at the state of the U.S. drive to regulate online gambling on a national level.

These efforts are now getting more traction, particularly since the U.S. lawmakers seem to be reaching, at long last, an agreement on the nation’s debt crisis.

“With Washington focus on the current debt crisis, the discussion of a federal online gambling bill had been pushed to the back burner, but may be back in the spotlight later in the month and legislators come back from recess,” notes the Wall Street Newscast.

Prompted by this new urgency, several U.S. states are accelerating their own plans to regulate online gambling, hoping to beat the federal lawmakers to the punch.

But, as we’ve seen over the past few years, state-led efforts to regulate gambling seem to hit pretty much the same roadblocks that the federal drive has been bogged down wit.

New Jersey Strikes Back
The state where the online gambling issue has bit the hardest may be New Jersey, which had spent months last year creating, debating, modifying and eventually passing a law regulating online gambling only to have it vetoed by Governor Chris Christie after sitting on his desk for a few more months.

Christie said that it was an issue the voters needed to decide, which has merit, but was also seen as a cop-out in face of a possible run-in with federal powers that wanted online gambling to be centered in places other than America’s Eastern seaboard.

Now, the author of last year’s blocked bill, New Jersey senator State Sen. Raymond Lesniak, D-Union, is taking another crack at it. This time, he’s supporting himself with a clever PR campaign, by appealing to the online poker industry directly. He’s done this by sending an open letter to U.S. attorney general Eric Holder condemning the “Black Friday” shutdowns.

Lesniak’s letter is a rebuttal to last week’s letter from Senators Reid and Kyl asking for federal gambling regulations, while also asking the U.S. to crack down on the kinds of intrastate online gambling system now being planned in New Jersey, as well as Nevada, California, D.C., and others.

“Were you to accept Sens. Reid and Kyl’s letter on its merits, you would have to prosecute the Nevada Gaming Board, which this year approved sports betting via mobile Internet within the confines of the state of Nevada,” Lesniak wrote.

Others see the issue differently. The Press of Atlantic City writes that “New Jersey will need to amend the state constitution to allow online gaming.”

If that’s the case, the Garden State may find itself just as stifled in its current efforts as it was last year. Meanwhile, the federal drive to regulate online gambling could realistically happen before 2011 ends.


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