California, Oregon, and Massachusetts Consider Legalized Online Betting

California lawmakers have introduced two separate bills to legalize online poker in the state. According to the Sacramento Business Report, these bills have a better chance of being passed than previous efforts, because the land-based Native American casino interest might lend their support this time.

If California followed the model other states have followed–and they almost certainly would–then the land-based gaming establishments would be able to build online portals for poker. These would be able to register gamblers on California IP addresses. Eventually, they might be able to lure players from an interstate community. Also, California might legalize online casino gaming, too, which would increase the revenues for the Indian tribes.

California a Lynchpin for Online Poker

It is thought by some analysts that California would be a key U.S. state in the legalization process. If the California legislature moves ahead with plans, then numerous other states might follow their lead. Oregon is one state which might fellow its larger neighbor. The reason other states might follow is the opportunity to partner with other states in gaming ventures.

So far, only three U.S. states allow licensed online casinos and poker sites. These states are Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey. Nevada and Delaware are among the least populated states, so they recently signed an interstate compact which allows online card rooms licensed in their states to share player lists. If the most populous state in the USA were to legalize iPoker, many other states might sign on to the iPoker compact, hoping to acquire millions of potential extra gamblers. Suddenly, a marginal revenue source when considering a lone gaming community could increase tenfold.

Oregon Prefers to Wait

At the moment, Oregon is taking a wait and see approach. Oregon state lawmakers currently are trying to rewrite state lottery laws to avoid the worst problems involved with problem gambling. With gambling opponents organized to set limitations on lotto betting, the time may not be right to pass pro-gaming laws in another form.

A few politicians in the state have remarked on the public announcements by Sheldon Adelson to use unlimited funds to fight online gambling. The CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp, the largest land-based gaming company in the world, says he wants to end online gambling in the United States because he’s concerned about spreading gambling addiction. In Adelson’s thinking, land-based gaming is much healthier than computer gambling.

While a gambling CEO’s pockets are going to be deep, he so far can pick and choose his battles, due to the low number of states considering online gaming propositions (less than ten). If one of the large states like California gets involved and other states follow its lead, the numbers might become more problematic for such a figure.

Massachusetts iGaming Might Be Inevitable

The State Senate majority leader in Massachusetts called on legislators to proceed slowly with online gambling initiatives, but in the same conversation said iGaming is likely to be inevitable in his state. In Massachusetts, the debate is not so much “if”, but “when”, online gaming will be legalized.

At present, the state is trying to shore up land-based gaming ventures like the racecourse in Plainville by introducing slot machine gaming at these venues. If the slots can keep Massachusetts gamblers from traveling 20 miles down the road to Rhode Island’s gaming facilities, business and political leaders believe they can save the racecourses.

Stanley Rosenberg, the Democratic Senate Majority Leader, says, “We don’t want to kill the goose that laid the golden egg on the state lottery and the new goose that is hopefully going to lay some golden eggs in the coming years, the slots parlor and casinos.

In such circumstances, the people who want to slow down the march to licensed and regulated online gambling have few moral or social qualms about the practice, but want to preserve brick-and-mortar gaming interests, which create jobs in the state.

Divisions in the Gambling Industry

The common thread in all of these cases is whether divisions in the gaming industry keep the industry from moving forward. Often, the established land-based casinos and racinos feel threatened by the inclusion of a new form of gambling, fearing they will lose customers if gamblers stay at home to gamble online. Therefore, some of the staunchest iGaming opponents can be the brick-and-mortar casino and racetrack operators. In an industry still small enough and derided enough that it’s not always considered mainstream, such divisions often prove to be its downfall.

That’s one reason the initiatives in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware succeeded. In all three states, a significant portion of the established gaming interests in the states bought into the idea that online gambling could help–not harm–their business models. In fact, the Atlantic City casinos and racecourses in Delaware see iPoker and online casinos as a godsend to help keep their businesses successful.

As Las Vegas developers like Steve Wynn will tell you, that theory has not been proven yet. The experiments going on in Nevada and New Jersey are being watched closely by industry observers trying to figure out what the real world results will be.

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