Casinos’ online ‘gold rush’ slammed; New Jersey mobile; California sports betting

tribes-online-gambling-california-new-jerseyOn Tuesday, representatives of some American Indian tribes injected even more formaldehyde into efforts to regulate online gambling in the United States. Speaking at the iGaming North America conference, California Tribal Business Alliance chairwoman Leslie Lohse said that many tribes were wary of the “rush to the gold” by Nevada casino companies such as Caesars Entertainment looking to enact federal online poker laws. Lohse is concerned that such haste could lay waste to tribes’ hard-won gaming rights unless “we really sit down and hammer out the nuts and bolts.” Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association exec director Sheila Morago echoed Lohse’s concerns: “When you take one federal bill and sort of overlay it over 29 state compacts, you’re kind of wondering how this is going to work … nobody wants to open those state compacts.”

New Jersey’s state Assembly may have hit a snag trying to pass the second go-round of an intrastate online gambling bill, but a separate bill authorizing mobile gambling at Atlantic City casinos unanimously passed the Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee on Monday. Assembly Bill 2575 would permit casino-hotel visitors to gamble via mobile device away from the gaming floors, but Assemblyman Ralph Caputo voiced concerns that, as written, the bill failed to specify the exact locations where such activity would be permitted. Caputo doesn’t much fancy New Jersey following Nevada’s lead by allowing mobile gambling in hotel rooms, away from the scrutiny of casino staff. No date has been set for a full Assembly vote on the bill, which Caputo approved in committee but promised to vote against if/when it reaches the Assembly floor. A Senate committee passed a similar measure in February.

While New Jersey follows Nevada’s lead by pushing for mobile casino betting, California is following New Jersey’s recent push for betting on professional and collegiate sporting events. State Sen. Rod Wright, who sponsored California’s most recent online gambling bill (SB1463), is also the pol pushing SB1390, which would allow sports betting to take place at state racetracks, Indian casinos and card clubs. Bettors would have to be physically present at these sites to wager; no phone, internet or mobile wagering would be permitted. Passage of SB1390 would require California to mount a court challenge of the federal PASPA anti-sports betting law (or wait for New Jersey’s state attorney general to win his challenge). Consultant Paul Donahue told Bloodhorse that Wright’s bill was fair and balanced. “By opening it up to all those who are licensed to conduct wagering, no one is being favored. We are not creating a new class to be licensed.” The state senate’s governmental organization committee is expected to hold its first hearing on the bill in April. If the bill fails, perhaps emigrating to Canada would be the next best thing.

Finally, Massachusetts Rep. Dan Winslow told the iGNA that his state should be able to come up with “comprehensive” online poker regulation by Q1 2013. And Iowa’s latest online poker bill could hit the Senate floor for a vote sometime this week. A local lobbyist told Chris Krafcik (@CKrafcik) that “votes are being counted” to gauge the bill’s chances for success in the full legislature.