US States Decide on Online GamblingBy: Fabian Rictor, Tuesday March 1st 2011
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The fate of online gambling in New Jersey will be decided this week. But no matter which way Governor Chris Christie swings, there are some other American states that are preparing to take a call on online gambling. Florida is considering legislation that will partly allow online gambling, whereas Virginia may well ban it completely.
Florida may begin its foray into online gambling with poker. A news item in the Daytona Beach News Journal reports that intrastate online poker could be legalized as early as July 1, 2011. The main objective seems to be that the legislators want to plug the budget deficit of $4billion. The state Rep. Joseph Abruzzo, who is a Democrat from Wellington, has already proposed the bill. Abruzzo told the Daytona Beach News Journal, "We want to legalize it, regulate it and bring the revenue to Florida. To me it's common sense to protect our players." The bill will be discussed in the next session of the state congress that will start on March 8. The plan is put forward a proposal allowing race tracks and jai-alai frontons to create portals that will allow players to play online poker against others in the state. The bill envisages licensing up to three operators to act with the state's 23 pari-mutuels and provide portals for online poker. The bill also seeks to allow online betting on dog and horse racing. Daytona Beach Kennel Club & Poker Room is one of the pari-mutuels under consideration. Its manager, Daniel Francati, said, "I think it'll help take Internet players and try to convert them into brick-and-mortar players. You always have a question when people are playing online for money. How do you know they're paying if it isn't regulated?" Jamie Hinks at the Calvin Ayre web site does not agree that allowing online poker will bring players back to land casinos. But he says that if New Jersey backs out then Florida may be the first American state to allow online poker.
Virginia is on the other hand heading towards the direction of Washington State. The architect of the proposal is Clifford L. Athey Jr. His bill criminalizes all forms of online gambling including lotteries, sweepstake style action at Internet cafes, online casinos and online poker rooms. The bill has just stopped short of imposing a Washington State style ban on the actual players. The bill has passed the General Assembly. Companion bills have been introduced by state Senator Obenshain and Delegate Oder. These will allow restaurants to offer Internet time and games that do not involve gambling in any form. If the bills are enacted into law, they will enable enforcement agencies to pursue criminal charges against the owners of any establishments that offer online gambling, including those that are trying to use loopholes in the existing laws.
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