States and feds on collision course
Recent news reports indicate that the states may be on a collision course with the federal government regarding the online gambling issue. A recent report in the Wall Street Journal said that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Arizona Senator Jon Kyl are working on legislation that would legalize and regulate online poker at the federal level. For poker players, the news is not new, and in the past there have been several attempts to legalize online gaming. What is actually generating controversy is how the federal government is trying to subjugate state efforts to legalize internet gambling. The federal bill only applies to poker, and other forms of gambling would be illegal. Many states are hoping to offer residents a variety of games such as online bingo, poker, blackjack and others, and several sites like BingoHouse already offer a diverse selection of games.
While Reid and Kyl are trying to put their legislation in front of congress, states are rapidly passing their own laws regarding online gambling. Reports indicate that congress is trying to thwart efforts by states to implement online gambling. Jon Porter is a former Nevada House of Representatives member and is currently a lobbyist for online poker companies. At an internet gambling conference Porter stated “States are moving rapidly and the federal government is saying, ‘time out.’” As states move forward with online gambling legislation, Reid and Kyl’s proposal remains stalled in congress.
Last summer, Reid and Kyl sent a letter to Attorney General Holder asking for clarification of the DOJ’s stance on internet gambling. In the letter, both senators stated their opposition to state efforts to legalize online gambling. They also Asked the DOJ to “consult with congress” before finalizing their position. In December the DOJ finally clarified their position and in a memo said that the only form of gambling prohibited on the internet is sports betting. The ruling paved the way for states to adopt their own rules and regulations on internet gambling. Some states plan to offer residents a variety of games in addition to poker. These include online bingo, keno, poker, roulette, blackjack, baccarat and other casino games. The ruling also cleared the way for states to sell lottery tickets online.
The legislation proposed by Reid and Kyl would overturn some state laws and would ban other forms of gambling. Many in the gaming industry say that allowing states to create their own internet gambling laws could lead to a confusing hodge-podge of individual laws and regulations. Large casino interests are pushing for federal legislation. Some gaming experts say that there could lead to a conflict between states’ rights and the power of the federal government.