It’s not even Valentines Day yet and two online poker bills are already dead in 2015. Mississippi’s third attempt to legalize the game failed to move out of committee. Meanwhile, Washington state residents will have to continue to settle for live poker as an attempt to decriminalize online poker has failed.
Mississippi Bill Never Had a Chance from the Onset
It took less than a month for a measure in Mississippi to die in committee. The Mississippi Lawful Internet Gaming Act was introduced on January 21 as the latest attempt by state Senator Bobby Moak to legalize online poker. Yet again, the measure failed to make it out of committee and was officially killed last week.
This was the third year in a row that Moak’s bill was killed in committee. Moak even admitted that when he filed the bill that it had no shot of advancing but felt that filing the bill was necessary in order to keep dialogue open for the future.
Mississippi is one of several states that have examined the issue of online poker but have failed to make any substantial progress. He believes that 2016 will be the first year that serious discussion of the bill will take place. Mississippi residents have not been completely open to the concept of online gambling, so it will be interesting to see if sentiments will soften by next year. It will also be interesting to see whether advocates can justify the expense of running sites after sliding profits in Nevada and Delaware.
While Mississippi has a successful live gambling industry, online poker would require combined player pools through interstate compacts in order to make it truly viable. Should California get online in 2015, it would help improve the odds of Mississippi giving a bill considering next year. A combined player pool with a state such as California or New Jersey is likely the only way Mississippi will justify entering the online marketplace.
Washington State Not Interested in Online Poker
The other state to kill a bill this week was Washington State. In mid-January, HB 1114 was filed by Representative Sherry Appleton and would have overturned the law that makes playing online poker in the state a felony. The bill was the brainchild of Curtis Woodard of the Washington Online Poker Initiative.
HB 1114 would have made online poker legal in Washington State. Furthermore, the bill lacked a bad actor clause, meaning that PokerStars would be free to offer services in the Evergreen state.
Appleton revealed last week that the bill would be shelved in 2015 due to a general lack of interest. This lack of interest was to be expected in the state due to the fact that the game is currently illegal to play online. Washington is the only state currently that has such a law on the books.
Woodard remains optimistic and said via Twitter, “This is not the end, it’s just the beginning. We’ll be back!” While a bill failed in 2015, it did crack the door slightly for online poker supporters. Now players and advocates will have a year to mobilize and try to improve their odds in 2016.