Online Poker Bills Dead in Washington State and Mississippi

In the United States, online poker is not readily available. Unless you are visiting New Jersey, Delaware or Nevada, you are basically out of luck. Player’s choices for online gaming are quite limited, however, this year, several states are considering passing legislation to get in on the online poker industry of the US. When 2015 arrived, legislation seemed to be popping up left and right, with such states as Washington and Mississippi introducing legislation.

Unfortunately, both measures died quickly and never even made it to hearing. The bills created by Sherry Appleton and Bobby Moak are no longer under consideration. Both wanted to see their measures move forward and become involved in the United States iGaming industry.

Bobby MoakMoak has tried several times to see online poker offered in Mississippi and never seems to gain any traction. The support needed to see the bill move forward does not seem to exist in the state. A comprehensive study is currently in the works for internet gaming in the US and is being conducted by experts appointed by Allen Godfrey, the head of the Mississippi Gaming Commission. Godfrey does not have a great outlook on online gaming and this will most likely affect the study as well as the industry.

The study is supposed to research several aspects including the iGaming taking place in the three states with regulation, Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada. The revenues earned will be under scrutiny which is the area in which the states have not been able to reach initial estimates. Other areas of study which have done fairly well within the regulated states includes fraud, geolocation and problem gambling.

With Mississippi being connected to those who are in opposition of online gaming, it may be difficult for the state to see legislation passed this year. Moving on to Washington State, the landscape is much more complicated based on tribal interests. In the state, playing poker online is a felony but a bill written by Curtis Woodard and sponsored by Appleton showed how online poker could be of benefit in the state.

Woodward confirmed that the bill was not able to gain support that was originally hoped for and the bill will not be moving forward during this current session. While many might see the Washington State legislation as a failure, Woodward believes the measure was a great step forward for an eventual legalization of an online poker bill and regulation would become a reality in the future.

With both states losing out on legislation opportunities, it brings the total number of states going down with the potential to pass a bill this year. California is still in the game with two measures currently under consideration. In California, both pieces of legislation will allow for online poker but have different language that has the state split.

While some tribes want to see the bill by Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer pass, others want to see the bill by Assemblyman Mike Gatto be the one chosen by legislators. With the Jones-Sawyer bill, card clubs, tribes, race tracks and anyone who has been connected with legal issues tied to online gambling will be allowed to take part which would include PokerStars.

The Gatto bill would not allow such companies to take part and race tracks would also be excluded. The disagreements on who should be involved is the main reason why California has yet to be able to pass legislation. It will be interesting to see if the state will be able to come together and pass legislation or will Mississippi or Washington State introduce additional legislation and move in before California can make an online gaming decision.