State-by-state update: The road to U.S. regulation, May 5, 2011

Three weeks after the U.S. government’s dramatic crackdown on online poker, Colorado may be entering the race to regulate online gambling in the U.S., joining a list of states that includes California, Nevada, Florida, and, yes, still New Jersey and Iowa. (Washington, D.C. has already done so.)

“Colorado casinos commissioned a recently released study that found the state’s brick-and-mortar operators could be at risk if they don’t quickly embrace online gambling, with the expectation that Congress would ultimately regulate and tax the activity,” Andy Vuong writes in the Denver Post.
Vuong points out that Americans make up about 17 percent of the worldwide Internet gaming market, with an estimated $6 billion annual spend — huge figures that look pretty appealing to cash-strapped states looking for some additional revenue.
Vuong also makes the case that local residents depend to some extent on the ability to play poker online. “I put my daughter through four years of undergrad and a master’s degree in England, exclusively with online poker,” Joe Michaels, Colorado director for the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), is quoted in the article.
After April 15’s online poker indictments, the online poker bill in Nevada was dramatically revised to avoid specifically mentioning poker. But lawmakers (and poker lobbyists) may have found a way around that roadblock by changing their focus from “Internet poker” to “interactive gaming.”
Nevada Assembly chairman and bill sponsor William Horne told that the new bill still hopes to regulate online poker.
Horne doesn’t see Black Friday, and the changed political climate it’s left behind, as a defeat. “[A]t the end of the day will still look at the bill in terms of where Nevada wants to be regarding online gaming,” he told “it becomes more incumbent on [Nevada] to put regulations in place and to have a solid foundation and regulatory structure ready.”
But an amendment to his bill says that the bill can’t come into effect until “the United States Department of Justice notifies the Commission or the State Gaming Control Board that interactive gaming is permissible under federal law.” Nobody’s holding their breath for that one.
Southern States
Kentucky is one of the most anti online-gambling states in the union. Or is it? Despite still fighting to seize some 141 online poker domain names from international owners — which could have inspired the federal government’s April 15 action — Kentucky’s biggest home-grown sporting event is waking up to the realities of online gambling.
The Churchill Downs, home to the world-famous Kentucky Derby, has admitted that “for the first time [it] got more profit — 53 percent — from online wagering and casino gambling than horse racing,” writes Gregory A. Hall for the Courier-Journal.
That includes racetracks in Florida and Louisiana, as Hall points out. But don’t be surprised if ambitious lawmakers seize on this info as further support for regulating online gambling in those states.