Kentucky State Senator Mike Wilson Wants to Ban Internet Cafes, Online Gambling
Kentucky State Senator Mike Wilson wants to ban Internet cafes in the state. State-level bans on such cafes seems to be a growing trend, with 20 U.S. states passing some kind of law to address such gaming venues. What makes Senator Wilson’s bill different is the possibility that it could ban all online gambling in the state.
Mike Wilson has been an outspoken opponent of most forms of gambling in Kentucky for years now. Wilson hopes to change Kentucky’s Revised Statutes to end any loopholes that would allow the Internet cafes to operate. Since those businesses allow gambling on slots-style games and video games through computer terminals, laws can be written to ban online gambling of all sorts when addressing such gaming. That appears to be what Mike Wilson, a Republican from Bowling Green, wants to do.
Wilson on WBKO Radio
Recently, Mike Wilson talked with WBKO Radio about his motivations: “What they’ve done is they’ve taking away the charitable gaming from people like our veterans who are the VFW and the American Legion, which I’m a member there also. As well as, the Knights of Columbus, it’s really hurt them big-time.”
Targets Online Gambling Businesses
Bill BR 290 is set to target any businesses which facilitate online gambling. The ostensible target are the online cafes, which have sprung up in strip malls and shopping centers throughout Kentucky. Such Internet gambling cafes looks quite similar to other Wi-Fi adapted coffee shops and computer cafes. Communities have suddenly found that they have major gaming operations in their city limits, and authorities are often caught off guard until a citizen informs them about the shop.
Kentucky law under KRS 528.010 does not ban such activities. When it was passed, it was considered “emergency legislation” and was quite specific in its provisions. If BR 290 was passed, it is thought the 90-day waiting period would be waived and it would go into effect immediately.
Two Exceptions Might Be Added
The new bill might allow two exceptions. Kentucky’s horse racing industry is a part of the state’s history and traditions, so online horse racing bets might receive an exception. Also, the state lottery is expected to start selling online lotto tickets in 2015, so the state lottery might also ask for an exception to such a ban.
The forms of gambling explicitly banned would be the three major forms of online gambling, then: online casinos, Internet sportsbooks, and online poker rooms. Sports betting is already banned at the federal level through the 1961 Wire Act and specific provisions of the 2006 UIGEA law. Online casinos and card rooms are still a legal gray area, which is why U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham and U.S. Representative Jason Chaffetz are pushing Restore America’s Wire Act, which would outlaw those forms of gambling on the Internet.
Why State Legislation Is Needed
The RAWA bill is considered a longshot to be passed in the U.S. Congress. Therefore, Sen. Mike Wilson’s ban would give Kentucky a more ironclad law, forcefully banning the practice at the state level.
2015 Legislative Session
To start the process, Sen. Wilson pre-filed a bill that would allow it to be added to the 2015 legislative session. Presumably, the bill would be discussed early in the session. The session begins each year on the second Tuesday after the second Monday in January. In even-numbered years, the session lasts for 60 days. In odd-numbered years, the session lasts for 30 days. The session this year begins on January 13.
Mike Wilson says he wants to make sure specific language gets into the law, so there can be no question whether the gaming laws pertain to Internet cafes or not. Law enforcement personnel across the state has not been able to determine if the Internet cafes are legal or not, which makes enforcement next-to-impossible.