Two States Done, Forty-Eight to Go
The swell of online gambling legislation in the US reached a new milestone today as Delaware governor Jack Markell signed a bill legalizing online casino-style gambling within the state. Delaware and Nevada are the only states so far to pass legislation to license and regulate Internet casinos, although other states are at various stages of progress pursuing the same goal. Now the race is on to see which state will be first to actually launch real-money games and take the first legal and regulated online bet in the States.
Delaware House Bill 333 narrowly passed the Senate only yesterday, in a vote which was tainted by controversy when one Democratic Senator alleged that he erroneously voted in favor of the bill despite opposing it. Senator Robert Venables says that he believed that he was voting on an amendment and not the final bill, after having turned down his hearing aid during debate of the measure! Any chance for Venables to potentially rescind the Senate vote is likely over now, as Governor Markell signed the bill into law less than 24 hours after the Senate passage.
The Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act of 2012 puts the state Lottery Office in charge of regulating online gambling in the state. Lottery games would be offered online, as well as Internet versions of slots and traditional casino table games. This development is a direct result of the change in opinion late last year by the Federal Department of Justice, as reported here.
In my understanding of the bill, while the Delaware Lottery would operate all the games offered over the Internet, those games could be available at the websites of any of the state’s video lottery agents, so there may be many competitors in that space once the games are live.
The new law dictates that gambling be restricted to persons physically located in the state of Delaware, although it also provides for the possibility of interstate compacts that would allow the pooling of players from other states. From the summary of the bill: “Internet lottery games would be offered solely to persons within the State of Delaware at the current time. A person’s location would be determined from a person’s computer or mobile device. This territorial limitation applies to all gaming except gaming pursuant to an interstate compact or if otherwise legally authorized.”
Other provisions of the Delaware bill expand existing gambling operations within the state, allowing new venues for both keno and sports betting.