- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Lawmakers in at least 10 states are betting this year that their constituents want greater access to online gambling.

GamblingCompliance, a website on the global gambling industry, issued a briefing Wednesday saying that so far 10 states are set to consider bills to expand or regulate Internet casino or poker games.

But at the same time, the odds of federal legislation are long at best, according to the paper, “U.S. Internet Gambling in Focus.”

“In 2013, 10 states considered legislation that would legalize online casino-style gambling, which was a historic high. This year is shaping up to be at least as busy,” said Chris Krafcik, research director at GamblingCompliance and the briefing’s author, in a statement.

Those 10 states are California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Several other states will consider permitting lottery tickets or games to be purchased or played online, joining Georgia, Illinois and Minnesota.

Gambling proponents agree that the action is now at the state level, given the opposition in Congress stemming from anti-online gaming interests, led by Sheldon Adelson, chairman of the Las Vegas Sands casino.

“It is an election year, which means that virtually all politically controversial subjects, including Internet gambling, will be seen through the risk-averse lens of re-election,” said the report.

Only two of the 10 states considering legislation in 2013 actually enacted legislation: Nevada and New Jersey. The Nevada bill authorizes the governor to execute interstate compacts and bans some business from attaining supplier licensure.

The New Jersey legislation authorized existing casino license holders to offer Internet poker, table games and slots, according to the report.

In 2014, the Nevada legislature may consider expanding online gambling, which is currently limited to poker.

The report also predicts Delaware will pursue cross-border agreements with other states to expand its pool of customers, given the slow start of the state’s online gambling business.

Meanwhile, California lawmakers are focused on striking an agreement between Indian tribes on legalizing Internet poker.

A proposal under consideration in the New Jersey legislature would launch a new category of licensing to permit Atlantic City casinos to accept interstate and foreign bets. The state’s 15 Internet gambling sites took in $8.3 million from late November to the end of 2013.

“These are exciting times,” said the report. “The regulated U.S. Internet gambling market is just beginning to take shape.”

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