When will the Federal Government actually make online poker legal? According to Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Howard Stutz, that move won’t be happening before 2013, and even that might be a stretch.

Hopes Dashed

But today I am still just a bill.

Poker affiliates and players were hoping that a poker legalization amendment would be attached to the controversial payroll tax cut bill that made its way through Congress last week. After all, the 2006 legislation banning most online gaming in the first place passed under similar circumstances.

But Stutz Tweeted last Friday that the rider had no chance of making its way to becoming a law thanks to objections from powerful Indian gaming interests.

On Wednesday night, President Obama quietly signed the payroll tax cut and unemployment extension into law. The poker rider was not part of that legislation.

Not So Fast

Since the Department of Justice reversed its position on Internet poker late in 2011, the gaming industry has been working under the assumption that legalization legislation was little more than a formality was just a formality.

Software and gaming companies have been scrambling to form partnerships and alliances to help them win the pole position in the race to win the American poker market. But the current Congress is not exactly know for efficiency and this race may be a lot slower than anyone anticipated.

Political handicappers see the post election lame duck session as the next big opportunity for any Federal gaming legislation to makes its way through Congress.

Up to the States

In the absence of Federal legislation, it’s expected that state governments will step in with their own legalization efforts. Nevada is already way ahead of the pack in this effort and at least thirteen companies have already applied for online gaming licenses in the Silver State.

Given the dire economic situation in most states, it’s very likely that other states will rush to make legal online poker a reality as soon as possible. Top contenders for legalization include California and New Jersey.

Though legalization does seem inevitable, given the massive dysfunction inĀ  the Legislative branch of the Federal Government, smart says the state will be way ahead on this play.

Who do you think is going to be first to legalize online the States or the Feds? Share your opinion in our Online Gaming Laws and Regulation Forum.


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