Online Poker A Possibility In Washington D.C.

At the end of the last U.S. Congressional session, the legalization of online poker looked like a long shot. The death of the much-hyped HR 2267 iPoker bill cast a shadow over the optimism of pro-poker groups like the PPA and had many of the industry’s analysts predicting that no further advancements would be made without a major change of seats. What no one had counted on was how eager individual states would be to use intrastate online gambling revenue to supplement their growing budget deficits.

Last weekend, one legislature took two steps forward while today two others took one step back. On Friday, yet another advancement was made on the state level, but it wasn’t the front-running state of Nevada that made it. While the federal legislators in Washington D.C. may be largely anti-online poker, the local politicians have proven to be far more receptive to the idea. The word on the street is that the Council of the District of Columbia had already quietly made a place for online poker within their existing lottery system. Either the state legislature missed the small addendum, or they turned a blind eye, because the time for them to veto the change has long since passed, making it possible for the District to offer online poker to its residents early in 2018.

Hawaii, on the other hand, is already out of the running to become the first state to formally legalize online poker. Their two-part proposal – which also included a plan to bring a major live tournament to the state – failed to pass, or even get, a public hearing before the required advancement cutoff, leaving the bill dead only days after it was unveiled.

Nevada’s pending online poker legislation will likely have the same end as New Jersey’s thanks in large part to Governor Brian Sandoval’s open opposition to the bill. What’s the big deal? While the legislation would give an obvious leg-up to the state’s gambling brands that have already secured an online presence (including Caesars and Wynn), many other Nevada businesses could suffer for sending gambling revenue online.

The opposition in Nevada is largely due to the same issue much of Atlantic City had with their state’s attempt to legalize online gambling. That is, companies whose revenue is tied to gambling tourism are afraid that legalizing online poker in the state could siphon off even more of their income. For example, MGM and the Sands have yet to pursue online gambling connections, which means that encouraging would-be Nevada tourists to play poker online instead of visiting popular destinations like Las Vegas could be disastrous for them and their many brick-and-mortar properties and even more so for those companies that rely on gambling tourism but have no actual recreational gambling ties.

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