While congress remains gridlocked and the passage of the Reid Kyl online poker bill is not certain several states are planning to operate their own online casinos. One of the chief problems with the proposed federal legislation is that while online poker would become legal all other forms of online gambling, including online bingo, will remain illegal. The push to introduce online gambling legislation has gained ground in several states. Last December the department of justice reversed previous interpretations of the 1961 wire act clearing the way for states to launch online gaming operations.
Since the DOJ opinion was released seven states including California, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Mississippi and New Jersey have introduced legislation that would authorize intrastate gambling. In June Delaware authorized several forms of online gaming. Frank Fahrenkopf, the head of the American Gaming Association stated “The whole dynamic changed Dec. 23 of last year. It has set the stage that, if Congress doesn’t act quickly, it will be the largest expansion of gambling in the nation’s history.”
Fahrenkopf’s group supports a bill by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl that would make online gambling illegal except for online poker. Fahrenkopf said that poker has a long history in the United States and said that poker players play against each other and not the house. Many gamblers say poker is a game of skill rather than luck. Reid’s bill faces an uphill battle as congress focuses on ways to avoid the coming ‘fiscal cliff’ that could put the country back in recession.
Many states have expanded gambling in recent months. Maryland voters approved ballot question 7 that will allow the state to open table games at five existing and planned casinos. The state may construct a sixth casino. In September Washington Council members Marion Barry, Ward 8 Democrat, and Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat introduced legislation that would establish a 23-member citizens commission “to investigate the economic and social feasibility of implementing various forms of legalized gambling.” At the present time it looks like the states will move quicker than congress to legalize online gambling. The Reid Kyl bill is extremely restrictive and would leave most online gamblers out in the cold.