Iowa, Mississippi and California Join Race to Regulate Online Poker
February 28th, 2012 By Scott Jack
The race to regulate online poker in the US is still heating up across the nation. It has become clear that online poker is unlikely to become regulated at the federal level in 2012. With the elections coming up later this year chances are online poker won’t be on the radar at the federal level until next year at the earliest. Regulation at the state level is still heating up and three new states have introduced online gambling bills that would legalize online poker.
Iowa Bill SSB 3163
Iowa introduced bill SSB 3163 last week and the bill was passed through the Senate and will now appear in front of the Iowa House although it’s unlikely the bill will be passed. Governor Branstad stated that the bill probably won’t get through the Legislature and that’s not good news for poker players in the state of Iowa.
The proposed bill would legalize and regulate online poker in Iowa and allow operators from anywhere to apply for a license. Iowa would earn between 22%-24% in tax based off of the gross receipts of the poker rooms. Studies have shown that Iowa could earn anywhere from $3,000,000 to $13,000,000 in tax revenues every year, which would definitely help the state financially.
Iowa’s poker bill would allow poker networks to take wagers from anywhere within the state or anywhere else where online poker is legalized. Poker networks in other regulated jurisdictions around the world would be allowed to operate within the state of Iowa if the bill is approved and the operator was awarded with a license to operate.
Mississippi House Bill 1373
Mississippi also joined the race to regulate online poker in the USA this past week. Mississippi released House Bill 1373 last week on Wednesday and if the bill is passed online poker could be legalized by July 1st 2012. The bill stresses that the state needs to act soon in order to ensure Mississippi residents have safe places to play online and to earn the state revenue.
Players in Mississippi would need to complete a wagering agreement before they could play for real money. It would become illegal to play with any unlicensed poker room in the state if the bill is passed and there would be fines in place. Poker operators would need to apply for a license with the Mississippi Gaming Commission if the bill is passed.
The state would earn money through tax revenue plus the initial licensing fees. Poker operators would be required to pay $200,000 upfront to apply for a license and renewals would cost $100,000. Poker operators would also be required to put $100,000 into the State General Fund and $100,000 into the Mississippi Gaming Commission Fund every year.
House Bill 1373 would regulate and legalize online poker plus other forms of internet gaming. Most states are focusing on online poker only right now, but Mississippi is trying to legalize all forms of internet gaming at the state level. There is support for the bill in Mississippi and it should be interesting to see if the bill is passed or not.
California SB 1463
On Friday of last week California finished an eventful week off by introducing SB 1463. The bill would initially legalize online poker for two years and afterwards other forms of internet gaming would be considered. SB 1463 is an emergency bill and that means the new laws would become effective immediately if the bill is passed.
California was bound to work towards regulating online poker sooner or later and I’m surprised it took this long. If online poker is regulated in California it could earn the state a lot of money. Licensing fees alone in California are $3,000,000 annually and each of the poker operators that want a license need to pay $30,000,000 upfront to cover the 1st 10 years of licensing fees.
There would be other fees on top of the licensing fees, which mean not many operators are going to be applying for a license in the state of California at first in my opinion. Poker players would need to confirm their identification before being allowed to play in the state of California and playing with a poker room that isn’t licensed would be against the law.
Poker rooms that want to operate in California would need to have employees within the state to create jobs. All of the employees that operate the day-to-day operations and support reps would need to be hired in California. This would create quite a few jobs in the state and I have a feeling that California will pass this bill.
We have been following the US online poker news closely and will always update our visitors with the latest information. Out of the three new states to introduce online poker bills it appears that Iowa will have the hardest time passing the bill. I expect California and Mississippi to pass their online poker bills this year, as both states would benefit tremendously.
Other US Gambling
There is no real news as far as legalizing online casino games or online sports betting. I would expect at some point in time the government may look at this also, but it appears that poker will get done years before anything else. Until then you can see what online casinos still accept US players, or you can have a look at the US friendly online sportsbooks.