2013: Year of State Poker Legislation

Posted on January 10th, 2013 by Renee Kingsley

2013: Year of State Poker LegislationAfter years of pushing for changes to poker laws on a federal level, lobbyists are now turning their focus to state legislation.

For years, the poker world has been focusing all its energy on enacting changes to the US gambling landscape on a federal level. Since the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) was introduced in 2006, poker lobbyists felt that if changes were to be had, they would have to be made at this level. However, despite major efforts by countless hardworking and extremely dedicated politicians, it seems this path is leading to nowhere, and lobbyists will make 2013 the year that they shift focus to state-by-state legislation changes instead.

According to John Pappas, head of the Poker Players Alliance, the tables have flipped. The group’s executive director said that the proportion of attention paid by lobbyists to federal vs state legislation was traditionally 70-30. However, those numbers are now more realistically 30-70. Pappas said that the PPA was carefully examining state opportunities this year and ensuring that it remains in a position to impact bills that move at individual state level.

Intrastate Online Poker Already Here

While very little is happening at federal level, the exact opposite can be said when it comes to legalizing online poker state by state. Already Nevada and Delaware are at a point where they can expect intrastate poker to become a reality sometime this year, and New Jersey doesn’t seem too far behind if Governor Chris Christie does the right thing and signs a pending online gambling bill into law. Pappas also believes that states such as California, Massachusetts, Illinois and Iowa could be in the race in the near future.

In the meantime, however, nobody is giving up on federally legalized online poker just yet, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will keep pushing his proposal which petered out in the Lame Duck Session of Congress in December. Things could start happening on this front later in January or early February, when Congress will pick up unfinished business from the Lame Duck Session.

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