Online Poker Moves Closer In Iowa After Senate Approval
Iowa moved a step closer to becoming the second state in the US to regulate online poker. After Nevada lawmakers passed legislation last year regulating online gambling, the Iowa Senate had their say Tuesday night when they passed a bill allowing existing casinos to offer online poker.
The vote, 29-20, was close, and there is expected to be a bigger debate on the bill in the House, but the Senate vote did serve as a step in the right direction for those who want to end the prohibition on Internet gambling. Lawmakers who were in favor of the bill that passed Tuesday claim that online gambling already takes place in Iowa, and that residents should be protected through regulation by the state government.
Iowa legislators may also have their eye on a bigger picture involving Internet gambling. Federal lawmakers are getting closer each month to passing federal laws regulating online gambling. States that pass their own laws before the federal law is created would stand to have a leg up in the competition for online gamblers around the country.
Iowa has become one of the leaders in the gaming industry over the past decade, and lawmakers pushing for online gambling regulations want to ensure that all of their work in the industry does not get unhinged by other states taking their gambling customers. Senator Jeff Danielson made his point clear that passing this legislation would help Iowa "protect the investment" they have made in the gaming industry.
New Jersey is not far behind Iowa when it comes to online gambling regulations. Senator Raymond Lesniak and other members of the New Jersey Senate spent part of last week listening to testimony from experts on the advantages of regulating online poker and other casino games. Lesniak has successfully fought for the legalization of sports betting in New Jersey in recent years.
Nevada regulators have already started the licensing process, with applicants submitting their bids to operate online casinos. Some of the biggest companies in the world have joined forces with Vegas-based gaming companies with the hope of securing an online gaming license. It is believed that regulators will make their decisions on licenses and that online casinos could be up and running in Nevada by the end of the year.
The US online gambling industry is said to be worth billions of dollars. States such as New Jersey and Iowa have commissioned reports that show hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue could be generated by regulating online casinos. The reports also show that thousands of jobs could be created within the industry, at a time when the unemployment rate remains high around the country.
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