Amusement machine operators may soon face more competition for leisure dollars in states where governments are considering legalizing online gambling. Decisive progress has been made in New Jersey and Delaware. In California, the campaign for legalizing online poker is stalled in the state Legislature, but has picked up a noteworthy editorial endorsement from the L.A. Times.
In New Jersey, an Assembly committee approved a bill on June 18 that would enable Atlantic City casinos to accept Internet wagers from out-of-state gamblers, federal law permitting. Gov. Chris Christie has not indicated whether he favors the bill, which now requires approval by the full Assembly and the state Senate. Christie has said he favors legalization of online sports betting.
In Delaware on June 19, the House voted 29-8 for a bill to allow online slots and table games. Gov. Jack Markell is behind the proposal, which would also authorize NFL sports betting and keno in 20 and 100 locations, respectively.
California's Senate Bill 1463, an online poker measure known as the Internet Gambling Consumer Protection and Public-Private Partnership Act of 2012, was withdrawn by sponsors. The reversal came just before the bill's first important public hearing, originally scheduled for June 19 before the Senate's Policy Committee.
Supporters indicated they were not ready to take on the state's Indian casinos, which oppose Internet gambling. The next day, a lead editorial in the L.A. Times amounted to a qualified endorsement of online gambling legalization. The paper argued that millions of Californians play poker online anyway, so the industry might as well be taxed and regulated.
In 2011, the U.S. Justice Department revised its longstanding position on Internet gambling, asserting that federal law permits states to authorize gambling for their own citizens.