First, a quick chronological breakdown of the evolution of online poker and online gambling in the United States the past couple of years. Up until late last year, it was illegal for American-based companies to offer online poker and online casinos to American residents. In December the US Department of Justice reversed their decision regarding online lottery ticket sales and online poker. They dictated that interactive gaming could legally be policed at the individual state level. Since then Nevada and Delaware have both passed a legislative package allowing online poker and online gambling respectively.
In what many industry analysts saw as one of the best opportunities for a federal online gambling legislation package, the 2012 lame duck session has come and gone in the US. After the ruling by the United States Department of Justice in late 2011 that many forms of online gambling were no longer considered illegal, the door was open for a follow-up announcement of a federal interactive online gaming package. That never occurred, and with the election and fiscal cliff doom and gloom hanging over American’s heads, federal passage of online gaming legislation in the United States was pushed to the back burner.
Thanks to the Department of Justice changing their long-held opinion regarding online gambling in the United States, each individual state can decide their own online gambling destiny. Since that changed late last year, both Nevada and Delaware have passed legislation which allows online gambling for residents and visitors when located in those state boundaries. A recent interactive gaming bill just hit the Nevada legislative branch that, if passed, would allow for players in other states to enjoy online poker and other online gaming options offered by the Silver State.
New Jersey online gambling proponents are holding their breath. In 2011 a legislative package which would legalize online casino gambling in New Jersey passed through the State Assembly by nearly a 6 to 1 margin. The Internet interactive gaming bill was then easily approved by the state Senate, and needed only to receive Governor Christie’s okay and signature to make the Garden State the first US state at that time to legalize an online gambling package. It didn’t happen.
With the Fiscal Cliff plunge a near economic reality in the United States, individual states are looking to add much needed revenue to their coffers. Rather than hope and pray that the federal level of legislators will contain the impending economic doom that appears close to inevitable, states like New Jersey and California are edging closer to joining Nevada and Delaware as online poker providers for their residents and travelers. And out of left field we all of a sudden have a new player in the United States online poker conversation.