Sunday February 24,2013 : NEW ONLINE GAMBLING LEGISLATION LAUNCHED IN TWO MORE U.S. STATES
Massachusetts moves, and in California a sense of deja vu
Observers of the online gambling legalization scene in the state of California may have a sense of deja vu this week on the news that there are once again two proposals on the legislative agenda…and both have been introduced by the same politicians who attempted to legalise intrastate online poker last year.
One observer wryly remarked over the weekend: "Back to the future. All we need now is the resurrection of COPA and we'll be back a year!"
In December 2012 Sen. Rod Wright took yet another run at online poker legalization when he launched SB51. The bill, due for hearing in March 2013, was originally designated as an “urgency statute,” which means if passed by a two-thirds majority vote it could take effect immediately.
Now state Sen. Lou Correa has followed Wright (again) by introducing SB678 in a new attempt at online poker legalization.
His proposal calls for the regulation and licensing of online poker operators in California under the supervision of the California Gambling Control Commission, and sets out the criteria for acceptance.
The Commission is also tasked with drafting the necessary regulations and setting up a system for licensing and regulation….that could take some time, based on what we have seen in the Nevada experience.
It's early days yet for both proposals, but there can be no doubt that California, with its large population and relatively high per capita income is the plum when it comes to online poker; not just for operators who achieve licensed status, but as a potential partner in interstate compacts to build player liquidity.
If California lawmakers can overcome the many self-interested commercial obstacles that have plagued legalization initiatives in the past – especially at tribal operator levels – it could be the centre of attraction for the growing number of US states that are starting to enter the legalised poker or gambling environment.
In related news, it is also apparent that the state of Massachusetts is making progress on internet gambling legalization, with the introduction of two bills to the Legislature, according to the publication Legal Poker Sites.
Our readers will recall that last year state Treasurer Steve Grossman spearheaded an initiative aimed at achieving some form of legalization subject to the necessary research into the implications of such a move being carried out. Subsequently the Massachusetts Gaming Commission made a positive recommendation on i-gaming.
Back in 2011, the state decided after some acrimonious political exchanges that it would consider applications from land casino operators for three state land casino licenses.
Now two new bills have been submitted to the Massachusetts Legislature; S101 by Senator Jennifer Flanagan, and S197 by Sen. Bruce Tarr.
Of the two, the Tarr bill will probably be the most interesting to the online gambling industry, because Flanagan's proposal is aimed primarily at allowing the online intrastate sale of state lottery tickets, and a limited number of games like keno or scratchcard slots, although there is a provision for interstate agreements.
Tarr's bill goes much further, seeking to empower the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to licence and regulate suitable operators wishing to enter the online gambling sector in the state, but protecting the lottery by insisting that different games be offered.
Importantly, Tarr's bill makes provision for interstate compacts with like-minded states.
Again, it's still early days as these proposals await committee hearings, but the moves represent some political progress as Massachusetts faces the challenges of rapid developments in contiguous states like Delaware and New Jersey, and in the online poker context from Nevada.