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West Virginia May Follow Other States Into Online Gambling Industry

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Online gambling regulations may have failed this lame-duck session on a national level, but the issue is far from dead on a state level. With California, Florida, and New Jersey lawmakers already discussing online poker regulations, other states are following the soon-to-be trend closely.

"If everybody else does it, we'd probably do it as well," said John Melton, lead legal counsel for the West Virginia Lottery Commission, as reported by The Charleston Gazette. West Virginia lawmakers have not yet discussed Internet gambling, but it may soon be on the agenda.

This past month, a bill has been introduced in California that would regulate online poker. A similar bill has been passed in New Jersey, where residents may get to vote on the issue next fall. New Jersey lawmakers are also in the process of legalizing sports betting.

The past couple of years has seen one of the biggest gambling expansion efforts in the history of the US. State legislators have used gambling as their main tool in battling against budget deficits. Even in states where gambling was once taboo, like Ohio and Maine, casinos have been authorized by voters.

Ohio voters had dismissed casino resort proposals several times before one final passed in 2008. Maryland just had their first casino opened earlier this year, and Kansas is working on getting their four approved casino open in the next year. New York, Pennsylvania, and Florida have also expanded their gaming industries.

The next step in the gaming boom will be Internet gambling regulations. Senator Harry Reid attempted to push through a bill in the lame-duck session, but the legislation was filled with negatives that other lawmakers rejected. On a federal level, it is unlikely the online gambling laws will change with the new Congress taking over in January.

If New Jersey and California lead the way, it may not be long until other states get in on the millions of dollars in tax revenue that can be created from Internet gambling. Senator Reid's state of Nevada may be one of the areas of the country to attempt to circumvent federal laws by creating their own Internet gambling legislation.

As for West Virginia, no plans are in the works yet, but as Melton put it, "You could make an argument that Internet is the next frontier." Indeed, that argument has been made, and it is gaining more traction with every passing day.

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