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Online Gambling Legislation In American States

By: Joe Valentino, Tuesday March 28th 2017
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It has been clear for a few years now that legalised online gambling in the United States will have to come through the states. Federal legalisation of online gambling remains a distant dream. Three states, Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware, have already legalised some forms of online gambling. Not much progress was made by the remaining in 2016 because it was the year of the Presidential election. But now the process is gathering steam in some states. This news item reports on the progress in some of them.

In Pennsylvania there are three very similar bills in various stages of process that seek to legalize online gambling, regulate daily fantasy sports, reinstate a local tax share for communities, and allow skill-based slot machines and table games at certain airports. Two of these are in the State Senate and one is in the House. Earlier this month, the House Gaming Oversight Committee and Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee held a long meeting to discuss the future of online poker. The outcome was reported as highly positive. There is widespread support for these bills, including from most of the state's land-based casinos.

Massachusetts has separated different forms of online gambling and is treating them independently. The first step has already been taken. Early last year, a bill to legalize daily fantasy sports was passed and the activity is functioning under temporary regulations set out by Attorney General. SD618 was introduced in January this year that seeks to allow the state to offer online table games and poker only, under licensing and regulation from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. Last year an online lottery bill has been passed in the Senate but was stalled in the House. It has been reintroduced in the Senate in January.

In Michigan, the state's Senate Bill 203, or the Lawful Internet Gaming Act, has passed the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee on 8 March with a 7-1 vote. The bill had reached the same point last year, but never made it through Senate. The bill seeks to legalize and regulating online poker and other forms of gambling. Reports indicate that the support from commercial and tribal casinos is iffy.

At one time California was in the race to be first to legalize online gambling, but got stuck because of disputes with the state’s tribes. In February this year the Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act was introduced in the Assembly. The bill would legalize and regulate online poker in the Golden State, allowing tribes and card rooms to offer online games. The bill would also provide for stipends to racetracks, which would not be allowed to offer online gaming.

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