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US States Fast Track Online Gambling

By: Ryan Alders, Friday February 22nd 2013
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Finally American online gambling hopefuls are seeing some action on the legislation front and it is coming from the states. One governor has signed a bill into law and another has promised to sign it without delay.

A bill was introduced by Assembly Majority Leader William Horne and endorsed by US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada to enable online gambling compacts with other like-minded states without reference to the US Congress. The objective of such compacts is to have larger player pools, more liquidity and hence greater viability. The bill, titled AB114, was fast tracked through the state Legislature this week. It was first pushed through a joint sitting of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees and then approved unanimously by the House and the Senate and sent to the governor on Thursday, February 21. Governor Brian Sandoval signed it into state law immediately. He said, “This is an historic day for the great state of Nevada. Today I sign into law the framework that will usher in the next frontier of gaming in Nevada.” He added that Nevada could no longer wait for the Congress to act.

There were fears being expressed that divergence on some issues between Horne and Sandoval would delay the enactment of the bill. One of the issues was the proposed license fee of $1 million. Horne and the governor arrived at a compromise on a $500,000 fee and a renewal fee of $250,000. The law further provides for amendment of these fees by the Nevada Gaming Commission. The only problematic clause in the law is blocking the licensing for five years of any entity that has offered Americans online gambling since the advent of the UIGEA in 2006. This could keep PokerStars out of Nevada.

In New Jersey governor Chris Christie said at a public function in Lavallette that he would immediately sign the intrastate online gambling legalization bill if his demands are met. He even indicated that he would try and clear it on the same day that it came to his desk. Christie was referring to his conditional veto on the bill, specifying provisions he wanted changed. The New Jersey Senate and House are working to get the amendments passed as soon as possible, perhaps in February itself. Both houses of the New Jersey legislature will meet on February 26 to hear the governor’s budget address. The prime mover of the bill, State Senator Raymond Lesniak told the Associated Press news agency that there is a commitment in both houses to getting a revised bill passed on that day and immediately sent to Governor Christie’s desk. Therefore New Jersey could also have legal online gambling by the month end.

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