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Gambling legalisation trend growing in America
Posted 3/2/11 : Respected financial and business journal examines a growing trend
The respected Wall Street Journal has reported that regardless of what Governor Chris Christie does with New Jersey’s online gambling legalisation bill this week, the momentum of a state-by-state trend to legalisation will continue.
The newspaper noted the budget deficits and initiatives in motion in California, Florida and Iowa and spoke with industry experts on the growing trend.
Anthony Cabot, a well known internet gambling law expert, opined that when one state makes the commitment and passes legalising legislation, "…you will see other states go 'aha.' It will spread very rapidly."
The long article summarises the history of legalisation attempts in the United States and the harsh economic climate which has persuaded a number of state governments to consider the revenue generating benefits of intrastate regulatory regimes.
"I think you're seeing a shift in focus because the thought process is that if several large states legalise, that will put pressure on the feds to act," Nick Iarossi, a gambling lobbyist in Florida, told the WSJ.
Interestingly, the journal notes the opposition of land gambling giant Caesar’s Entertainment to a state-by-state approach to legalisation, which it in general supports. On a recent call with analysts, the chief executive said the company hadn't given up on the possibility of a change in federal law and wasn't ready to support an individual system whereby states would independently exercise their right to make their own intrastate laws.
The article notes the dominance of Pokerstars and Full Tilt in the US internet poker field despite laws hampering financial transactions, and quotes estimates by the Poker Players Alliance that around 10 million people in the U.S. play poker online.
“In New Jersey, the [legalisation] bill passed through both houses of the legislature in recent months with overwhelming support of both parties,” the WSJ points out. “But hurdles remain. [Governor] Christie could conditionally veto the bill, which would send it back to the legislature with changes, according to a person familiar with the matter. The bill would likely be derailed if he said it required an approval by voters. A recent poll found that 67 percent of New Jersey residents polled oppose Internet gambling.”
Sen. Ray Lesniak, who pushed the New Jersey bill through the Legislature in a remarkably short time this year, told the journal that the state could become a hub for the industry if it is the first to legalise Internet gambling.
The Senator estimated the new law would bring the state around $30 million annually in taxes based on an estimate that it would produce $200 million in revenues.
The newspaper reported on previous legalisation efforts by Nevada back in 2002, noting that these were shelved after the US Justice Department advised the state against allowing the pastime.
The article also reports that the state of Illinois is waiting on a ruling from the Justice Department on whether a plan to allow wagering online through the state lottery would be allowed.
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