Gambling bill released may face resistance in Del.
Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 00:09
A proposed federal Internet gambling bill released last week is likely to face resistance in Delaware, where the bill could override state laws, according to professors.
Economics and public policy professor William Latham said he thinks the state is unlikely to pass the bill, which can be adopted through an opt-in program, because Delaware wants to remain competitive with neighboring state casinos.
“States have too much interest and too much invested in their gambling laws,” Latham said.
The bill, titled the Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection, and Strengthening UIGEA Act, would limit online gambling to poker and off-track horse betting.
It is the latest in a series of proposals by Democratic Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada and Republican Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona. If passed, the bill would supersede Delaware’s latest law that allows more virtual casino games.
The legislation, The Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act of 2012, was signed by Gov. Jack Markell (D-Del.) in June, making Delaware the first state to authorize Internet casino gambling with online versions of slot machines, poker and roulette.
Sociology and criminal justice professor Tammy Anderson said that some Delaware politicians are working to expand the casino industry.
“There is a profound belief for those that endorse expansion of gaming that it is good for the economy,” Anderson said.
In Delaware, table gambling, sports and horse betting all take place in the same venues, according to Latham. The state’s three casinos are Delaware Park, Dover Downs and the Harrington Raceway and Casino.
Anderson said under the Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act, each location would have its own virtual gaming website that would be controlled and operated by the Delaware Lottery.
“Most of the gambling is supposed to come through the three brick-and-mortar casinos,” she said. “When you log on you will now see an online gambling option.”
According to Latham, current gambling laws are aimed at keeping Delaware casinos competitive with popular Maryland and Pennsylvania casinos.
Latham said some Delaware residents are actually closer to Philadelphia casinos than they are to those in Delaware.
Anderson said that Markell and other officials are trying to expand Delaware’s casinos in order to keep players in-state.
“Delaware has been very successful in preventing people from going to Atlantic City to do their gambling,” Anderson said.
Online expansion furthers this goal, according to Latham. He said Delaware residents could be less likely to cross the border to play because online casinos allow players to participate from the comfort of their own homes.
If the state chooses to opt-in to the Senate legislation, much of the Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act would become obsolete. Under Kyl and Reid’s bill, the added profits of online gambling in the state would be limited to poker and horse race betting, reducing players’ options.