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Focus Shifts to State-by-State Approach

While efforts for federal legislation are teetering towards death, lawmakers and operators have shifted their attention to state-based legislation. Senator Harry Reid claims there may still be an opportunity to pass federal regulation this year, though it looks unlikely without former Senator Jon Kyl in office to garner sufficient Republican support.

As a result, officials in Nevada and other states are gearing up to launch real-money gambling, but the regulatory frameworks are far from complete. Nevada, with barely 3 million residents, recently submitted an amendment proposing to share player pools with other states. Lack of liquidity and the risk of inconsistent regulatory standards are issues that need to be addressed in a state-by-state approach.

Delaware and New Jersey are also expected to have intrastate online poker platforms up and running soon. The latter awaits the signature of Gov. Chris Christie to pass a bill into law allowing Atlantic City casinos to provide online services to state residents. It’s no guarantee, however, that Christie will put pen to paper; he vetoed a similar bill in 2011.

Now respected lobbying group the Poker Players Alliance have officially backed state-by-state efforts, representing a shift of focus from federal legislation.

“It has become clear that last year’s dysfunctional Congress was a huge obstacle in our mission to secure safe and regulated Internet poker,” wrote John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance, in his weekly update. “Sadly, the prospects of the partisan Congress working together in 2013 does not look promising.”

“I think the tables have flipped, where it used to be a 70-30 focus on federal, and I think now it will be more like 30-70. The PPA is really looking at the state opportunities for 2013 and making sure we are in a position to impact any bills moving at the state level,” he told Poker News.

The PPA will adjust its focus from Washington D.C. to California, potentially the largest and most lucrative igaming market. Sen. Roderick Wright reintroduced an online poker bill in the State Senate on December 20.

“Unless there is an unexpected consensus among the stakeholders, the bill is likely to run its normal course with probable hearings in March or April, 2013,” Harsh Parikh, a Snell & Wilmer gaming attorney, told PokerUpdate last autumn.

Because California has the liquidity that Nevada and Delaware lack, the Bay State is generating excitement. “The big crown jewel of all of this is California, so I think a lot of emphasis will be made on doing serious grassroots in California to demonstrate to lawmakers there that there is a voter appeal to these types of proposals,” Pappas added.

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