With Delaware’s passage last week of legislation legalizing online casino gambling, they joined Nevada as the only two states with laws allowing legal online poker play in the US. California only weeks ago seemed to be at the forefront of the race to become the next state after Nevada to legalize online poker play, but it is currently just treading water in that regard. Ohio, Illinois, Hawaii and New Jersey are at varying spots along the journey to passing some type of online poker bill, but it looks like New Jersey could be the frontrunner in the race to be the next state to join Delaware and Nevada with an “All In” bet for online poker.
And while Delaware and Nevada were both able to move forward with pro–online poker passage because of the US Department of Justice December 2011 online gambling rule, there may be another way for New Jersey to achieve the same result. In December of last year the US DOJ reversed their ruling that running online gambling and online poker websites in the United States is illegal. They further mandated that this responsibility should be handled on the state level, which cleared the way for each of the 50 United States to choose their own online poker destiny.
And while that possibility still remains on the state level for New Jersey to offer their constituents and visitors some form of online poker play through an offering of new legislation, pro-poker proponents in that state have another weapon in their arsenal. The state already has brick-and-mortar casinos and racetracks, and back in 1992 the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was passed by Congress. Former New York Knicks star and NBA Hall of Famer Bill Bradley was then a US senator from New Jersey, and he sponsored the act.
A simple amendment of that act could allow for a quick addition of New Jersey to the short list of states that legally offer online poker in the US. And it is much easier to write an amendment to a current bill or act than it is to create new legislation. Asked if he has ever thought of approaching the solution in this manner, US Senator Robert Menendez stated, “I would support it,” going on to point out that “people always gamble.” He added that he was a sponsor of an Online Poker Bill in the past.
But since any Senate action would take place under the scrutiny of the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada since 2007, passage of a nationwide pro-poker bill for online play is tough to envision. Nevada has obviously had a monopoly on gambling in the United States, and it is hard to believe a scenario where Reid would help to pass legislation ending that. However, in the house, Republican Frank LoBiondo and Democratic Frank Pallone, Jr. have come to an agreement across party lines concerning their mutual support for getting online poker and other sports betting back in the Garden State. With such bipartisan support for online poker in a state where casinos and racetracks already flourish, coupled with a multitude of options provided possibilities for passage of legislation favoring online poker play, New Jersey has to be considered the current frontrunner in becoming state number three to offer legalized online poker operations.