Slow Week for Online Poker Legislation
After a flurry of activity to usher in the spring season, the last week brought little but a lull for online poker regulation watchers in the United States.
Let’s start with Pennsylvania. After weeks – actually, months – of “will she or won’t she” guessing games, Rep. Tina Davis finally put the legislative pedal to the metal, so to speak, in April by introducing her bill to regulate a variety of online gambling games. Analysts grumbled about the high taxes Davis proposed, but with the insanely high tax rate – over 40% – that PA sets of live casinos, it’s hard to see how anyone could really have been surprised by Davis’ 20%+ tax rate for online operations.
Anyway, back to the matter at hand. The bill is introduced. Criticism flies. And then … not much of anything. Since the much-heralded, long-awaited introduction, there has been nary a peep from Davis’ staff, lobbyists or other stakeholders as to the future of the bill. That could be because it doesn’t have much of one; state politics are dominated by a GOP that has proven to be an reliable enemy of gambling expansion, and online gambling would no doubt appear doubly troubling to already skeptical lawmakers. Either way, PA will be well behind competitors Nevada and Delaware, who are both rapidly approaching launch dates for their regulated online gambling products.
And then there’s Illinois, which is basically like Pennsylvania in a lot of ways. Similar size, similar culture, similar mix of rural and megalopolis. Add to that list: similar lack of online gambling regulation progress. Illinois really got some people’s hearts going in February, when powerful state politicians tacked online gambling onto a larger proposal looking to bring more land-based casinos to Illinois (most notably to the city of Chicago).
That fell apart when Illinois Governor Quinn balked at the larger package, and online gambling was eventually severed from the bill. State Senate President John Cullerton’s office said he plans to raise online gambling as a separate issue, but time is tick, tick, ticking away on the current session with not a bill in sight. Looks like supporters will have to cool their heels until the veto session in the fall of 2013, unless some back-room negotiating – always a possibility in Illinois politics – is setting up a plan to push through online gambling at the last minute.
But at least Illinois is ahead of states like Wisconsin and Colorado, where virtually no regulated online gambling options are available. Illinois is one of the few states where lottery tickets can be purchased online, and limited horse race betting can also be conducted online by state residents.
Rounding out the list of this slow-news-no-news week: California saw more talk about a tribally-supported plan, but details are still a bit tough to come by. And finally, New Jersey played host to another round of bickering between PokerStars and the AGA, but what we didn’t hear were any updates regarding progress made toward publishing the official regulations that will govern regulated online gambling in the Garden State.
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