2013 State Online Poker Update

February 28, 2013
2013 State Online Poker Update

New Jersey became the third state to legalize either online poker or online casino games yesterday.  This has led to speculation about which state may be the next one to join the online gambling industry.  Many states are halfway through their 2013 legislative session.  Several of them have an online poker or casino bill to consider before the end of this year’s session.

States Considering Online Gambling Legislation

California Online Poker Bill

California State Senator Roderick Wright has tried to expand gambling in California several times.  Attempts to legalize casino games date back as far as 2008.  This year’s bill is SB 51.  The bill would online legalize online poker.  Casino games would not be considered until online poker had been successful for at least two years.  Online poker operators would be required to be a card club, tribal casino, racetrack or offtrack betting facility.  Offtrack betting includes those offering it over the internet.

California online poker has its supporters.  The biggest problem lies between the tribal casinos, card clubs, and racetracks.  Many tribal casinos do not feel they should have to put up the required $30 million deposit or pay the 10% tax required by SB 51 and its preceding bills.  The card clubs do not feel they should have to pay taxes if the tribes are going to be exempt.  Representatives from both groups question why racetracks and off track betting companies should have access to this lucrative market.

California is a very important state for future online poker liquidity.  The state has the largest population in the US.  If California were its own country, its economy is the eighth largest in the world.  Its population is comparable to Poland, the eighth largest country in terms of population in Europe.  California is one of just a few states that could sustain a proper liquidity pool for intrastate online poker.

Hawaii Online Poker and Casinos

Hawaii is another state that has tried unsuccessfully to pass online gambling regulations for several years.  A bill is once again being considered by the Hawaii Legislature.  Senate Bill 768 has been introduced by State Senators Donovan M. Dela Cruz, Malama Solomon, and Gilbert Kahele.  The bill would allow for an internet gaming commission and would legalize online poker and casino games.  The bill would not legalize any forms of brick and mortar gambling.

Hawaii currently has no legalized gambling, not even a lottery.  That is because the state’s tourism industry has opposed brick and mortar casinos.  Online gambling would be more aimed towards residents who are known to enjoy gambling.  The number one tourist destination for Hawaiians is Las Vegas.

Iowa Online Poker

The Iowa Senate passed Senate File 2275 during the 2012 legislative session.  The more conservative Iowa House did not even vote on the measure.  Kraig Paulsen, Speaker of the Iowa House of Representatives, cited a lack of support for not bringing the bill to the House floor.  Iowa Senate Study 1068 has been introduced for the 2103 legislative session.  It is an identical bill from the 2012 version that allows for online poker to be offered by the state’s commercial casinos, tribal casinos and racetracks.  Online casino games are not being considered at this time.

Massachusetts Online Poker and Casino Games

Massachusetts legislators have proposed both online lottery games and online casino games in separate bills.  Senate Bill 101, the online lottery bill, was proposed by Massachusetts Senator Jennifer Flanagan.  Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr introduced Senate Bill 197.  That bill would legalize online poker and casino games as long as they do not interfere with games offered by the state lottery.  Senate Bill 197 is similar to bills that have been introduced for several years in Massachusetts.

The gaming industry in Massachusetts has changed since the state first started considering online gambling.  Four casino licenses are now up for grabs but none are live at this time.  Casinos in Massachusetts are at least two years away.  Legalizing online gambling before there is an active casino industry in the state could pose problems down the road.  The odds would seem low that Senate 197 could pass, at least until all four of the state’s licenses have been claimed.


Pennsylvania does not have the text of a bill to consider yet.  House Representative Tina Davis has given notice to the Pennsylvania House that she will introduce such legislation to stay competitive in the gaming industry.  Pennsylvania surpassed New Jersey as the number two state in terms of casino revenue.  Rep. Davis would like the state to maintain that position.  Hurricane Sandy may have been the cause for some of the loss of Atlantic City revenues, but Pennsylvania has seen their gaming revenue skyrocket over the past six years, while at the same time Atlantic City’s has declined.

States Where Online Gambling is Already Approved

Three states have passed online lottery ticket sales.  Those states are Delaware, Georgia and Illinois.  Online horse racing and fantasy sports are also legal in a number of states.

Three states have gone beyond internet lottery tickets, horse racing and fantasy sports.

Nevada Online Poker and Sports Betting

Nevada became the first state to legalize forms of online gambling aside from lottery, offtrack betting and fantasy sports.  Nevada legalized intrastate online sports betting in 2010.  Sports wagers may be made by mobile devices or over the internet.  The Nevada Gaming Control Board passed online poker regulations in December 2011.  The state passed interstate compact guidelines in 2013.  The governor now has the ability to enter into interstate online poker contacts with other states that have also legalized the game.  Online poker will likely go live in the next 3-6 months.  Online casino games are not allowed under this law.

Delaware Online Poker and Casino Games

Delaware became the second state to legalize online poker and casino games.  This was done in June 2012.  Delaware is accepting bids from potential providers with a self-imposed September 30, 2013 deadline to launch.  Online poker would appear to be less of a priority than online casino games.  The state’s small population will hinder its ability to offer a liquid pool of online poker players without partnering with other states.

New Jersey Online Poker and Casino Games

New Jersey passed online poker and casino games on February 26, 2013.  This was done after over two years of debate and two vetoes by Governor Christie.  The state is so confident that they will have online poker and casino games live in the next year that they have entered potential revenue from the new industry into their 2013 fiscal year which begins on July 1, 2013.  New Jersey is by far the largest state to legalize online gambling in the US.  It’s close location to both New York City and Philadelphia could also improve the state’s online gambling draw.

Failed Bills


Mississippi saw their intrastate online gambling bill double referred to committee.  House Bill 254 eventually died for a second year due to a lack of support.


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