Online Poker -- Progress in Calif. and La., Setbacks in Pa., Ill., and Mass.

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Previous proposals to the California legislature regarding the legalization of online poker have failed to gain traction, mostly due to disagreements with various Native American tribes who have gambling stakes in the state. However, a new group of eight tribes have devised a new proposal that seems to resolve those issues.

The Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act has been drafted by tribes like Pechanga Agua Caliente and seems to have the support of many card rooms, as well. Establishments already offering poker would be the only ones eligible for online poker licenses, and horse tracks would be prohibited. License fees would be $5 million, and awarded licenses would last for 10 years. This draft will be developed into a bill and introduced to the California legislature in the coming months.

One unlikely state that has expressed an interest to move forward on the topic of Internet gambling is Louisiana. Legislation was proposed to the state House of Representatives to initiate a study of the legalization of intrastate online gambling, and it passed by a 62-22 vote. The Senate Judiciary Committee will soon consider and propose a vote on the same resolution, which was originally proposed by Republican Mike Huval.

When the bill to legalize online poker was removed from a larger gaming bill in Illinois, there was a promise to introduce a standalone bill for legislative consideration. However, the state's legislature adjourned last week without any sign of such a bill. Despite the need for additional revenue for Illinois, Governor Quinn was not prepared to consider online gaming at this time.

Massachusetts went a step further. A recent online gambling proposal in the state legislature was introduced as a Senate budget amendment, but it was pulled last week by lawmakers who deemed it unconstitutional. Despite numerous efforts to push legislation forward to keep up with neighboring states like Delaware and New Jersey, both houses of the legislature have now rejected the idea.

The proposal would authorize the legislature's Criminal Justice Administration Committee and the Judiciary B Committee study the "feasibility and practicality" of Internet gambling. Findings will be reported to the legislature before the start of the first 2014 session. With additional input from the governor, police, attorney general, and Louisiana Gaming Control Board, the state could move toward participation in intrastate online gaming.

In Pennsylvania, a measure is being introduced that would put an outright ban on online gaming. The proposal originated with State Representative Paul Clymer (R), and it comes at the heels of counterpart legislation proposed by Representative Tina Davis, who proposed a measure that would legalize several variations of Internet gaming in the state (including poker). Both bills are currently in committee.

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