A day after the reintroduction of RAWA, a pair of online poker bills are officially dead. Bills in both Mississippi and Washington were introduced earlier this year but neither really had much of a chance of progressing. They now have become the first bills of 2015 to fail at the state level.
The first bill, the Mississippi Lawful Internet Gaming Act of 2015, never had a chance from the onset and its author even stated as much. When Representative Bobby Moak initially filed the bill, he admitted that the odds were long that the bill would pass but he still filed it in order to keep dialogue open on the matter.
The other bill, HB 114 in Washington State, also died a quick death due to overall lack of interest. Washington is the only state that makes playing online poker a felony and few believed that the bill would gain any traction.
What Was the Purpose of Filing When Defeat Was Certain?
Online poker supporters from both Washington and Mississippi would agree that while neither bill moved forward in their respected legislatures, it did help to publicize the issue and will hopefully build momentum for the future.
Rep. Moak in Mississippi firmly believes that 2016 will be the first year that the state will seriously consider online poker legalization. Last year, it was believed that Mississippi was taking a “wait and see” approach to legislation and even commissioned a task force to investigate how online gambling would benefit the state. Those results are still forthcoming.
In the case of Washington State, HB 114’s defeat can be simply a way to get the message out to players in the state and let them know that there are some that support their cause. Now that the first steps have been taken, players and supporters can educate the general public in Washington State and work towards a more favorable outcome in the future. However, their path to legalization may prove to be a tougher one than most.
Will Any State Pass a Bill in 2015?
With the quick demise of bills in Washington and Mississippi and the reintroduction of RAWA in Congress, one has to wonder how far online poker will advance in 2015. At present, the only state that looks to realistically have a chance at passage is California and many would agree that the odds are less than 50 percent.
California has a pair of bills currently under consideration but major divides still between lawmakers, tribes and other stakeholders. While AB 167 is being looked at as a major compromise bill, there seems to be little interest by tribes in backing down from the bad actor stance. Unless this changes, we will likely see both bills in California fail.