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Online Poker Legislation Update

Online poker is going is primed for a major explosion in the coming months as the US market slowly comes back to life.

That means 2013 will bring a slew of online gaming legislation at the state and Federal levels.

Here’s a few updates to help affiliates keep current on this very important topic:

Federal Poker Legislation

Will Congress ever pass a Federal level online poker bill? That’s the big question on the minds of every in the gaming industry from small-time affiliates on up to the biggest gaming companies.

Federal legislation could tilt the balance of power in the US online market from smaller companies to big ones in a heartbeat because they’re better equipped to work on a national level. Unfortunately, for the big guys, this all relies on members of the U.S. Congress actually doing their jobs.

For now, the Reid-Kyl Bill has an outside chance of passing during the upcoming lame duck session, but that’s a might big, “if.” With tepid support from the GOP and a growing chorus of criticism from state lottery officials, this bill is a long ways from becoming the law of the land.

State Initiatives

Last Tuesday voters in four U.S. States (Arkansas; Maryland; Oregon; Rhode Island)  were asked if they wanted to expand land-based gaming in their respective states. Here’s how they turned out:

  • Arkansas – Legal challenges nullified the vote to expand casino schedules to a 24-hour schedule.
  • Maryland – Voters approved a measure allowing for one new land-based casino.
  • Oregon – For the second time, a ballot initiative expanding casinos did not pass. It should be noted that local tribal gaming interests strongly opposed this bill.
  • Rhode Island – Two bills that would have expanded table gaming at two state casinos were passed at the state level, but only one passed at the county level.

State Sponsored Gaming Bills

Gaming industry watchers should be keeping plenty busy this January when state legislatures take session across the U.S. Don’t be surprised to see lawmakers in states like Colorado taking a very close look at intrastate poker bills for the first time.

At the same time, states like California, and possibly Iowa, are very likely to reintroduce bills that didn’t pass last year.

If you’re handicapping the chances of legalization in a certain state, here are a few factors to keep a watch on:

  • What’s the budget look like? – Revenue strapped states are far more likely to go legal than cash-flush states.
  • How powerful is Indian gaming? – Most tribal gaming interests aren’t too keen on competing in the online market. In California, for example, they’ve got lots of pull and are close to getting exactly the legislation they want.
  • How you doin, Nevada? – If Nevada’s radical legalization efforts bears fruit, you can bet that other states will trip over themselves to copy the Silver State and get a piece of the action.

And speaking of the states, there’s certain to be some movement on New Jersey’s historic bid to legalize sports betting.

The next 12 months could be a very wild legislative ride for the gaming industry.

Will the Feds be able to regulate online poker or will that task continue resting on the states? Share your opinion in the comments section below.