Texas Hold ‘Em is probably the hottest poker game online or off right now. The game is played in stages, and after each of the players initially receives two cards face down, a round of betting ensues. This is called the “pre-flop” stage. After that initial betting round is concluded, the remaining players get to see three cards turned face up on the “flop.” The players see another round of betting, and then a fourth card is turned face up on “the turn” or “fourth street.” If any players remain, they go through yet another wave of betting before seeing “the river” or “fifth street.” Final posturing and betting by all the remaining players eventually leads to a champion, who takes them pot.
Getting a bill passed to legalize gambling online in Delaware, and any other state in the US, is very similar to Texas Hold ‘Em. Legislators and pro-online poker proponents gather their arguments as to why online poker should be offered in their state, in the pre-flop stage of legislation. If their initial wagering works, they get to see the flop, which means their bill goes before a legislative committee. If it passes that committee, it gets to see fourth Street, which is the House. Approval by the House means fifth street is just around the corner, being put before the State Senate. If the hand is played correctly here, and the Senate passes the bill, the bill moves to the Delaware Governor’s desk for the final round of betting.
Please, all you law students and legislative experts out there, I understand we are simplifying things here. That is a very loose and simple translation of the exact process, but close enough to work for our Delaware example, and with only slight differences evidenced from state to state. It appears that Delaware made a bet on fourth street, and the state Senate called their hand. That means that house Bill 333, a bill authorizing the state lottery to offer online gaming in Delaware, now stands ready to battle the state Senate on Tuesday, June 26, to see which side comes out the winner. With Governor Jack Markel originally getting the ball rolling by urging state legislators back in April to get a bill formulated, pro-poker constituents and legislators in Delaware are hoping that the river card makes their hand.
The original version of the bill has been amended to offer additional revenue streams to both harness racing and horse racing operators. Those operators originally denounced the bill, stating that they believed it would take gambling revenue away from them. Provisions were made that received the blessing of harness and horse racing operators, and in an additional amendment, prepaid cards sold by the state lottery agents must be purchased for players to fund their online accounts. In this way, the state lottery commands a piece of the pie, harness and horse racing operators are happy, and online poker in Delaware is one step closer to reality.
Since Senate approval in Delaware only means that the bill will then move forward to Jack Markel’s desk, nothing is guaranteed. But since Delaware is further along the legislative process for possible online gaming passage than any other state, they are placed solidly in the lead to become only the second of the United States to offer legalized online gaming since the United States Department of Justice moved online gambling legislative and regulatory responsibility to the state level.
The Delaware State Senate is now caught between a rock and a hard place, with the House approving Bill 333 by a wide margin, and a Governor waiting for their ruling that has openly proclaimed his wish to see a safe, dependable online gaming platform offered in Delaware. Online gamers and poker players in Delaware, keep your fingers crossed, and check back here after June 26 to see if Bill 333 wins its battle with the Delaware State Senate on fifth street, and moves all in with its final bet against a supportive Jack Martel.