Currently most state plans to legalize online gaming will limit the games to poker. Only Delaware plans to offer residents a variety of games including online bingo. Proposed federal legislation would also limit online gaming to poker. Many see the federal limits proposed in Senator Harry Reid’s bill as an affront to state’s rights. If Reid’s legislation ever passes (Not likely anytime soon) there will probably be a long legal battle over states’ rights that could easily take years. Why should online bingo players care about the legalization of online poker? Simply put, if online poker works out well for states with legal online gambling lawmakers and regulators in those states will most likely expand online gambling to include other games such as online bingo, keno, slots and others.
Delaware is already seeking bids for an experienced company to run the state’s online gaming framework. Nevada has already issued online gaming licenses to several casino companies. In Delaware operators must have at least one year experience operating an online gambling site in Europe or North America. In Nevada most applicants have extensive gaming experience and some have partnered with large European internet gaming companies. Nevada hopes to see the first poker sites in operation by spring. Delaware has set a goal of September 30th for online gaming to be up and running.
In New Jersey things are slightly different. While New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently vetoed the latest online gaming bill he indicated that if some changes were made he would sign the bill. Christie wants increased tax rates on internet gaming and an annual review of the industry. Christie also wants more funding for programs that treat problem gamblers. Democrats in the legislature are supporting the changes and intend to send Christie a revised bill shortly. Atlantic City casinos have been struggling because of the economy and competition from new casinos in neighboring states. The devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy also hurt business at the casinos.
Fortunately for New Jersey casinos Christie is no social conservative. In some states, especially in the south, social conservatives have been successful in blocking any and all gambling bills. Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney said “It cannot be stressed enough how important it was that New Jersey be ahead of the curve on Internet gaming. I appreciate the governor’s having agreed to allow it to move forward … The sooner we bring Internet gaming to New Jersey, the better off Atlantic City is going to be.” So far the future of online gaming looks bright but the passage of any federal legislation could be a game changer.