U.S. online poker players and fans are going to have to wait out another year with hope that the U.S. government will recognize Internet poker is as a legitimate gambling activity.
This year’s Republican swing in the House has stalled the legalization and regulation of online gambling, which had a strong forward momentum during the 2010 year end sessions. Alabama’s Spencer Bachus has been named chair of the House Financial Services Committee much to the chagrin of most online poker players. Reports are streaming in claiming other GOP lawmakers are also opposed legalizing online gambling within the U.S.
Eyes are on Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada) to continue his crusade in promoting the legalization of U.S. based online gambling. Reid coming out publicly in favor of regulating Internet poker was the best thing coming out of 2010 that should carry over to 2011. Reid tried to attach legislation to license and regulate online poker to larger, must-pass legislation during the lame-duck session to close out 2010. If he introduces the bill this year, it will have to stand on its own.
Most likely, for online poker fans, 2011 will become known as the year a state legalized Internet poker for the first time. At the state level, progress does carry over from previous years. This stabilizes the bill to license and regulate Internet gambling being offered through Atlantic City casinos within the state of New Jersey, which could be very close to passing. It has been passed through the State Senate by a wide margin, and gone through the committee level in the State Assembly. The full State Assembly is scheduled to vote on the issue today and it is expected to pass the bill. This in turn will fall into the hands of Governor Chris Christie for his signature, or his delay of 45 days, to become law. With the federal level looking a like difficult haul over the next two years, New Jersey is likely to be the trailblazer of a more state-oriented spotlight for Internet poker.