Since Black Friday, many poker news sites began extensively covering legal developments revolving around online poker regulation in the United States.
While it’s important that we have a grasp on the legal wrangling occurring at the state and national level, we realize that some of the reporting assumes you know all of the terminology being offered. Sometimes it may feel as if you need a law degree to understand what’s being discussed.
Today, we’re going to cover some of the basic lingo that you will see when reading about the process of regulating online poker in America. Please note that in most cases, we will refer to state-level efforts as national-level efforts have been predominately stalling for years.
State Level Lingo
The majority of what you will hear regarding iGaming regulation will be at the state level. Below are some of the terms you will hear used when talking about state-level efforts to regulate the game.
Online Poker Regulation – the process of legalizing online poker in a state and setting up a system for operating and taxing online poker. This process starts with the state legislature and once a bill is passed, it continues with the body assigned the task of regulating online poker. This is often a gaming commission but may also be a state lottery as in the case of Delaware.
Online Poker Legislation – the physical bill being passed through a state legislature with a purpose or legalizing and regulating online poker. Also referred to as online poker bill.
iGaming – Short for internet gaming. This term is often used to group together multiple forms of internet gambling. For example, New Jersey and Delaware offer casinos games and slots in addition to online poker. Their revenue is often referred to as iGaming revenue.
iPoker – Short for internet poker.
S.B. – Short for Senate Bill. An example would be SB1400. Sometime listed without the B, such as S1400.
H.B. – Short for House Bill. An example is HB1430.
Assembly – Term used by some states in place of House of Representatives. Elected officials in the Assembly are Assemblymen or Assemblywomen.
Conditional Veto – When a bill is vetoed but the Governor issues conditions that if met, will result in the bill being signed. Gov. Chris Christie issued a conditional veto in 2013 when lawmakers tried to pass online gambling. After his conditions were met, the bill was signed into law.
Online Poker / iGaming Hearing – Meeting held by a legislative body, often a committee, to discuss an online poker or iGaming bill. Often these hearings include testimony from members of the iGaming industry and opponents to online gambling. These hearings may or may not result in a committee vote on a bill.
Committee Vote – When an online poker bill is filed, it first goes through multiple committee votes. For example, in California, an iPoker bill must go through the Government Organizational committee and the Appropriations committee before it goes to the Assembly floor for a vote. If the bill does not pass a committee vote, it dies.
Stakeholders – Parties that have a vested interest in online poker regulation. For example, in California, stakeholders would include the California Card Room, Indian Tribes and the Horse Racing Association.
Once a state regulates online poker, you’ll start to hear a separate set of lingo that applies to activities related to operating a legal online poker site. Here are a few of those terms.
Operators License – In states where online poker is legal, those wishing to run an online poker sites must apply for a license. They must submit to the same types of investigations as live casinos. In the case where a licensed casino wishes to become an operator, they often have an iPoker license attached to their casino license.
Significant Vendors License – In state where online poker is regulated, those who wish to offer services attached to online poker sites must apply for an operators license. This includes online poker payment processors and third-party companies that provide software and tech support to operators.
Transactional Waiver – In New Jersey, online gambling sites that have passed the initial investigations for licensing are issued a transactional waiver that gives them the ability to operate online gambling sites for a period of six months. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement then monitors the site and after a period, they will issue a full license.
Federal Level Lingo
While the majority of activity related to iPoker regulation happens at the state level, there are still some things going on at the Congressional level you will hear about. Here a few terms you will hear in connection with Congressional activity.
Wire Act of 1961 – A law enacted by Congress to combat money laundering by organized crime. It prohibits the transmission of bets across state lines by electronic means. For years, lawmakers assumed that this law applied to online poker. However, a memo in December 2011 clarified that this law only applies to sports betting.
RAWA – The Restoration of America’s Wire Act. Over the last couple of years, select lawmakers have been seeking to reestablish the opinion that the Wire Act does apply to internet gambling and online poker. RAWA’s intent is to make online gambling illegal. If passed, it would also force sites in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware to shut down.
Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act – The UIGEA is a bill that makes it illegal for U.S. banks to process online gambling transactions. Some banks in regulated states will still block online poker transactions due to this law.