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New Jersey, Iowa, California Emerge As Online Poker Candidates

The chances for federal legislation to authorize and regulate online gambling took a hit last week when the issue was not added to a must-pass payroll tax cut bill. Senator Harry Reid believes the timing was not right to offer such a change in the payroll tax legislation.

That does not mean, however, that individual states will not continue to craft legislation regarding Internet gambling. With Nevada already preparing to open online poker rooms in 2012, California, Iowa, and New Jersey have emerged as the most likely states to follow suit and regulate the industry this year.

According to several analysts, the three aforementioned states are the ones that are pushing for Internet gambling the hardest. New Jersey has already passed a sports betting bill this year, and state Senator Raymond Lesniak has been, for several years, seeking to add online casinos to the offerings of Atlantic City casinos.

Iowa lawmakers are currently in the midst of a debate over online gambling, and opposition is still strong on the issue. An Iowa Senate subcommittee yesterday passed an Internet gaming bill, but the legislation still needs the full Senate, and the House approval before it can become law. That could take into late this year, and in an election year, analysts are doubtful the bill would be passed until 2013.

California had been discussing online gambling even before the Department of Justice opened the door in December to widespread expansion of the Internet gambling industry in the US. The DoJ issued an opinion that only sports betting is illegal under the Wire Act, essentially making it permissible for states to create their own intrastate laws without fearing being in violation of federal laws.

Nevada has already accepted applications from over a dozen companies seeking an online gambling license. The state will select the licensees in the coming months, and it is expected that the casinos will be operational before the end of the year.

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