US Updates: New Legislation in Washington, Indiana, Mississippi, NJPublished January 16, 2015 by Elana K
U.S. online gambling updates in a nutshell: New online poker bill in Washington, new sports betting bill in Indiana, iGaming legislation in Mississippi and New Jersey looks to England to solve their iGaming woes.
We've been following US online gambling legislation closely, and here's a roundup for the week.
New Online Poker Bill in Washington
A new online poker bill was introduced to Washington State, pushed forward by Curtis Woodward of the Washington Internet Poker Initiative and supported by Rep. Sherry Appleton. The bill is somewhat surprising given Washington’s history of opposition to internet gambling, but Woodward hopes that Appleton will be able to push it forward, since she has supported online gambling since 2006.
The bill only covers the legalization of online poker, does not contain “bad actor” clauses like that of Nevada and leaves room for the actual regulations and amount of taxes to be set up by the Washington state Gambling Commission.
New Bill to Legalize Sports Betting in Indiana
On January 9, Indiana State Representative Alan Morrison introduced a draft of a new sports betting bill that would legalize live sports betting and the offering of daily fantasy sports (DFS) by licensed racinos in the state. While Morrison knows that the passing of the bill is a long-shot, he has still been urging Indiana lawmakers to act quickly in order to secure that the state gets a cut from sports betting wagers, which are currently being served by illegal bookmakers.
Morrison believes that legalized sports betting could generate between $12 to $70 million of revenue for Indiana, if it’s done right. And Indiana desperately needs the money, as the state has recently seen a decline in sanctioned gaming revenues.
Despite the potential of high revenue, it is difficult to imagine that the bill will actually be passed. For one thing, the bill could only work if the federal-level Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which has prevented most American states from legalizing sports betting, is overturned or rewritten. Additionally, Indiana’s capital city, Indianapolis, is home to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), one of the strongest opponents to online gambling in the United States.
Mississippi Introduces iGaming Legislation
Mississippi has become the third state to introduce iGaming legislation in 2015. As soon as the state legislature came back into session, Representative Bobby Moak(D-Bogue Chitto) reintroduced his bill, The Mississippi Lawful Internet Gaming Act Of 2015, which would legalize online gambling.
Moak has been pushing for legalized online gaming for years, but so far, none of his bills have made it past the initial committee. One thing that he did manage to achieve was the creation of an eight member task force to study online gambling. The task force was created by Mississippi House Gaming Committee Chairman Richard Bennett, but the results have not yet been submitted to the legislature.
In the past, Mississippi has benefited greatly from land-based gambling; in the 1990s, the expansion of land-based gaming was the answer to longstanding unemployment and budget deficits. In the mid-2000’s, following the desolation of Hurricane Katrina, lawmakers allowed for further expansion of gaming, which helped revitalize the waterfront. But despite the help that land-based gambling has provided to the state, online gambling is still going to be a hard ticket to sell. This is due partially to New Jersey’s poor showing of iGaming revenue; had New Jersey's efforts fared better, Indiana might be more inclined to push for it.
New Jersey Explores Interstate and International Partnerships
New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement chief David Rebuck stated last week that the Division has been exploring both interstate partnerships with Nevada and Delaware, and also an international compact with the United Kingdom.
This initiative has the support of Senator Raymond Lesniak, who has been pushing for New Jersey to become an international “hub” of online gambling for years. However, before this venture begins, New Jersey will need to deal with logistical and technical issues, which are likely to take quite a while.