December 25,2012 : Merry Christmas : POOR PROSPECTS FOR FEDERAL POKER LEGALISATION NEXT YEAR
Stiff opposition from states and from conservative politicians and tribal groups
Congress has passed up any chance of delivering a federal online poker legalization law this year, and the prospects for the 2013 session of Congress are not much brighter, according to expert writer Howard Stutz.
Despite strong support and a determined last minute campaign, the American Gaming Association and its influential land casino members failed to progress a federal legalization proposal by Senators Reid and Kyl in the lame duck session of this year's Congress, and statements by various land casino execs recently indicate that state-by-state legalization is being viewed increasingly as the alternative option.
Most major land gambling operators have already applied for (and have in many cases been granted) Nevada online poker licenses under that state's intrastate scheme.
Stutz opines that despite undertakings by Reid and Nevada Republican Senator Dean Heller to try again in 2013, there is little chance an online poker bill would make it through Congress.
He points to stiff opposition from tribal groups jealous of their first nation sovereignty, individual states and governors guarding their lottery and gambling rights and Republican conservatives, whose political manifesto specifically calls for a "prohibition" on Internet gaming, and who’s most deep pocketed benefactor, casino owner Sheldon Adelson, remains adamantly against legalization.
"If there is going to be a cohesive effort to legalize Internet poker on a national scale, commercial casinos, tribal gaming and state lotteries all have to be on the same page." Stutz explains.
Several analysts are doubtful that that can be achieved: although the National Indian Gaming Association has offered to work with Reid and other senators next year, it will have its own conditions concerning access to markets, current compacts with states and rights to make its own decisions on gaming issues.
Stutz reminds readers that the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries opposed the federal attempt at Internet poker legalization, and that just this month seven state lottery directors travelled to Washington DC to lobby against the Reid-Kyl poker bill on grounds that it impacted states' rights and could restrict online expansion (the bill specifically sought to bar most other internet gambling variants).
Earlier this year the National Governors Association also opposed the bill, along with a number of high profile individual governors.
Meanwhile, several states have forged ahead with online gambling plans following last December's Department of Justice about-face on the Wire Act, which the authorities acknowledged applied only to online sports betting, opening up possibilities for other internet gambling options.
The policy change triggered a rash of US partnership deals with online and social network gambling companies, several of them in Europe.
Nevada is well advanced with an intrastate online poker licensing and regulatory regime that has already given the green light to 17 major gambling companies and is considering more; 2013 could see the first of these going operational.
New Jersey has just passed (for the second time in as many years – the first was vetoed by the governor) an intrastate online gambling bill, which now awaits only Gov. Chris Christie's signature.
Delaware has also passed a legalization measure, and in California online poker will again be on the schedule as an urgency statute when the Legislature returns to work early 2013, thanks to a renewed push by Sen. Rod Wright.
Several other states have expressed an interest and are investigating possibilities, including Iowa and Massachusetts.
In his column, Stutz quotes one analyst who opined: "It will become increasingly hard to pass federal legalization as more states adopt online gaming legalization of their own. Many companies had already started to shift resources to focus on state level online gaming strategies."