It appears that the federal initiative for the legalisation of online poker by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the US Congress's lame-duck session could see opposition from state legislatures and governors.
Namely, a report arrived this week that there are growing concerns at state level that federal government legalisation could be detrimental for the numerous states' initiatives to legalise online gambling in various forms, or that it could interfere with individual state lottery plans to introduce online activity.
It was stated by James Ward, a committee director at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), “It's frustrating because they are overseeing a successful stewardship of the gaming industry. It's not clear why any federal intervention is necessary. ... It's a sensitive topic for the states any time you talk about preemption.”
It was added by a Reid spokeswoman that the senator is aware of the states' concerns and is open to more input from legislatures and governors. She also said: “We have consulted extensively with a variety of stakeholders about the bill - including many states. We have indicated to all that our door is open to continuing conversations.”
And while Reid supporters claim that the Reid-Kyl bill contains a provision that addresses the states' concerns by giving them the chance to opt in to the proposed federal regulatory regime for online poker, a co-chairwoman of the government relations committee at the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries (NASPL), Margaret DeFrancisco stated that state lotteries raised more than $20 billion in 2011 for a variety of causes, including education, parks and senior citizens.
She added that “It's all money that the states absolutely rely on,” and that the Internet would be another avenue for states to sell lottery tickets. “It's another sales channel. We don't want to be restricted by the federal government telling us what gaming policy should be in the states,” she said.
In conclusion, DeFrancisco said: “The summary [of the Reid-Kyl bill] that we have seen is not terribly friendly to lotteries. … It's very restrictive. We don't want and we don't need any federal legislation concerning lotteries. Period.”
However, there are also different claims that Reid's attempt to ban all forms of online gambling except for poker is aimed at saving Nevada, his home state's, gaming interests – an idea rejected by former politician and now lobbyist Jon Porter, who said that land casinos realise the need to get into the online gambling world.
Porter assessed that “Our industry doesn't want to end up like the newspapers or the music industry.
“The Web is what is happening right now. … We understand it's coming. We think to do it right, it should be done federally.
“I think, absolutely, there is momentum, and I'm hoping there is a push, but it's very unpredictable,” Porter concluded. “We are closer today than we have ever been."