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.
Governor Sandoval in Nevada recently gave his state’s Gaming Control Board a 30 day ultimatum to deliver online poker by mid-February. On the heels of that announcement comes Nevada Senator Harry Reid acting as a White Knight for the state of New Jersey, located clear across the US physically from his home state. Why would the Nevada legislator who has been the recent champion of federal online gambling legislation begin touting the benefits of an interactive online gambling package for the Garden State?
With the reality of online poker only 2 or 3 weeks away in his own state, and with New Jersey probably the next state to pass online gambling package, it just makes sense for Reid to extol the virtues of a comprehensive federal piece of online gambling legislation to the new up-and-comer. With Sandoval in Nevada describing his state as “the gold standard of both gaming regulation and operation,” and virtual play a foregone conclusion, Reid must now turn to other states which are on the cusp of passing their own bills which would allow for online gaming, in the hopes of garnering support for his federal bill.
Reid has always pointed out that each individual state offering their own take concerning online gaming and gambling could create fracturing and interstate problems. A federal bill would obviously blanket the entire United States, while also adding much-needed money to depleted federal coffers. Senator Reid had a proposal before Congress at the end of 2012, but fiscal cliff issues and the presidential election guaranteed that a bill at the federal level simply would not happen last year.
While admitting that “It’s gonna be harder to do than it was before,” Reid understands that once individual states like Nevada, Delaware and eventually New Jersey begin reporting online gambling revenue, federal legislators will take notice. There is no argument that the United States online gambling industry will draw funds in the billions of dollars. And at a time when many of the White House’s financial motives are being questioned, overnight access to the online gambling activity of 50 states could provide a financial boon that is too attractive for Congress and Pennsylvania Avenue to pass on.