Mississippi is the latest US state to throw its hat into the intrastate online poker ring. On Wednesday, Rep. Bobby Moak filed HB 1373, the Mississippi Lawful Internet Gaming Act of 2012 (read it here). The Act seeks to authorize poker and “any other game which is determined … to be compatible with the public interest” and purports to be a direct response to the Department of Justice’s pre-Christmas revised opinion on the scope of the Wire Act.
Moak’s plan envisions a regime in which applicants would need to post a non-refundable deposit of $100k, which would be applied to the total license fees of “not less than” $200k. License renewals would cost not less than $100k, plus $100k annually to the Mississippi Gaming Commission Fund to help combat internet crime, and another $100k to the State General Fund to, well, just because. Once applicants’ licenses are approved, operators would be taxed 5% of gross revenues. Any operator offering services to Mississippi residents without a Mississippi license could have their domain seized by the state.
In Iowa, the SB 3164 online poker bill sponsored by Sen. Jeff Danielson has cleared the Senate State Government Committee by a vote of 11-4. The bill will now head to the full Senate for debate, where majority leader Mike Gronstal has described the bill’s odds of passing as a coin-flip. Assuming that coin landed on ‘heads,’ the bill would then have to overcome a tougher jury in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
In Massachusetts, the Online Products Task Force convened by state treasurer and Massachusetts State Lottery chief Steve Grossman to study gambling options following the DoJ opinion is strongly suggesting the state will seriously consider online poker. Grossman told the Boston Herald that lawmakers had “an obligation to the people of the commonwealth to study the whole basket of [online gambling options], including online poker.” Massachusetts only just approved the state’s first ever B&M casinos in November, so this worm is turning quickly.
And then there’s Kentucky, where the Senate has knocked back plans to bring casinos to the Bluegrass State. Before the vote took place Thursday afternoon, bill sponsor Sen. Damon Thayer had asked for a delay, given that two Democratic senators who supported the measure would be absent on the day, but Republican majority leaders rejected the plea. The two missing votes mattered little in the end, as the bill was voted down by a margin of 21-16. A three-fifths majority (23) of senators were required to approve the bill in order for it to pass. Plus the pro-casino forces had to overcome Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, an anti-gambling crusader who was invited to open the Senate session with a prayer. How come pro-gambling forces are never permitted to have a representative from the Church of Satan sacrifice a goat on the floor of the legislature before a crucial vote? Really, all we’re asking for is equal time…