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US Online Poker Legalization Updates

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While Online poker legalization in the United States has been a hot topic for the last couple of years, it has never seemed more likely to occur as it has in the last month or so. A new opinion regarding the Wire Act of 1961 as well as Nevada stepping up and becoming the first state to enact online poker regulations has had other states considering the issue. Let's take a deeper look at some of the recent developments in online poker legalization in the United States.

The biggest development in intrastate online poker occurred on December 22nd when Nevada became their state in United States to adopt online poker regulations. A bill had been signed earlier in 2011 that required that regulations be in place by the end of January and the Nevada Gaming board came through with a core set of regulations and unanimously voted them in on the 22nd. Now, Nevada is in the course of finalizing the language of those regulations and have already begun taking applications from US casinos and gaming companies interested in providing online poker to the state.

Just one day late, the United States Department of Justice made public a memo from September that addressed the Wire Act of 1961. In short, the opinion clarified that the Wire Act only applies to sports betting and nothing else. With this revelation, many have taken this as a green light for online poker legalization to proceed. While Congress has not shown any real positive signs of movement, several other states are taking the lead in the issue.

California, Connecticut, Ohio and Maine all have added online gambling to their list of items that they are currently contemplating in their new legislative session. California is easily the largest of the markets currently considering internet casinos. California is facing increased pressures to raise money as their economy is struggling massively. Maine has expressed that they are going to take a "wait and see" approach and see how things pan out in other states like Nevada before strongly considering any measure.

Connecticut and Ohio are both in early consideration of online poker. Connecticut is carefully weighing the benefits of online gambling. They have a contract with the Indian Tribes that run the two live state casinos that gives the state 25% of their live video gaming revenue provided the state does not enact new laws allowing in other casinos. The Ohio Lottery Commission is considering online gaming and actually already has the authority to offer other games. However, they are going to consider the impact of the gaming on their current markets, including their Video Lottery Terminal market.

New Jersey is going to also consider the issue of online gambling in their new legislative session, but it is a bill that has been voted on before and actually vetoed by the Governor Chris Christie. This time around, the bill addresses many of the Governors concerns and he said that he would support it if the bill is Atlantic City centric. Lawmakers tried to push the bill though the last session, but Gov. Christie convinced them to reintroduce it in the current session. The prospects of its passing are good considering that New Jersey recently approved live sports betting for the state. They must now petition the government to grant an exemption to the current ban on sports gambling in most states in the US.

About the only state to really oppose intrastate gambling in the wake of the DOJ's recent opinion is Utah. State representative Stephen Sandstrom filed a bill in the Utah legislature that would effectively ban online gambling in the state. He did so in an attempt to keep Utah free from the negative effects of legalized gambling. This was not very surprising considering that the Utah legislature passed specific laws to keep Indian casinos out of the state.

By and large, it appears that intrastate poker and intrastate gaming in general is beginning to push forward. Many expect intrastate gaming to explode in 2012 and possibly even Congress to pass online gaming on a national level. How far online poker will expand in the US remains to be seen, but it certainly has picked up new momentum.


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