US States Debate Online Casino GamblingBy: Mark Freedman, Saturday February 20th 2010
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The Internet Gambling legislation at the federal level is moving very slowly. Also in a recent court hearing the bench opined that the UIGEA could come to force only in those states where online gambling was illegal. Hence even if the federal level legislation does not come through but a state declares online gambling as legal, then the UIGEA would not apply in that state.
This has led to many states displaying an interest in allowing some form of online gambling. These include California, Florida, New Jersey, Iowa, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware. In California the tribal land casinos, who claim that legalized online gambling will eat into their earnings, have been able to stall the progress of Internet gambling. Florida has commissioned a study to estimate the revenues that could accrue through regulated online gambling. New Jersey legislators are considering a proposal to allow Atlantic City casinos to operate online gambling services. They are also considering empowering the President of the State Senate to challenge federal laws that may impose curbs on online sports betting. Joe Brennan, Jr., chairman of iMEGA is of the opinion that New Jersey will legalize online gambling within a year.
A report in the Sioux City Journal has indicated that Iowa has moved ahead of other states in this matter. The House State Government Committee may hold a hearing next week on legalization and regulation of various forms of online gambling. Democrat Representative Brian Quirk is spear heading the movement. He told the Sioux City Journal that Iowa already had 17 land casinos and an estimated 80,000 Iowans playing online poker. This, according to Quirk, proves that Iowa is a gambling state. However, the proposal will face opposition during the hearing from State Government Committee Chairwoman Mary Mascher and Republican Representative Jeff Kauffman. But Kauffman acknowledged that the legislators who have to decide will have to balance the political stand with the financial one.
While the legislators at the federal and state level may be divided on the issue of legalizing online gambling, apparently the American people are not. Mark Gibbs, writing for the U.S. IT publication Network World came to this conclusion. He took the estimated figure of $8 billion spent in online gambling last year and assumed that the average amount gambled by one player would be $500. Therefore he concluded that there are already 16 million online players, which makes it about 25% of the adult American population. Gibbs also referred to an online poll conducted by US News and World Report, in which more than 90% percent of respondents favored the legalization of online gambling.
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