Players in Kentucky will at least have to wait another year to see any legislation move forward. State Rep. Adam Koenig (R) introduced a bill in January that would legalize online poker and casino gaming.
However, recent legislative needs regarding the casino industry have put iGaming on the back burner, Koenig told USPoker.
Slot-like games supersede Kentucky online gaming including poker
A recent state supreme court ruling on the state’s historical horse racing (HHR) games have left legislators scrambling. HHR games function like slot machines but results are based on actual horse races from the past.
The court recently ruled that the machines don’t meet the state’s definition of parimutuel wagering. That means thousands of machines in the state are technically illegal.
“Betting on HHR slot machines has grown 463 percent in the last five years, and will total approximately $3.6 billion this year,” the Lexington Herald Leader notes. “That’s three times more than Kentuckians will buy in lottery tickets, and twice what is bet on the lottery and live horse racing combined.”
“This bill is on hold while we deal with a state supreme court ruling on our historical horse racing machines,” Koenig said. “Until that is settled no action will occur on my bill.
“Although always hopeful, given we have already gone through 11 of our 30 days we can be in session, it will be a heavy lift to get it across the finish line this year.”
After resolving the HHR issue, Koenig feels the iGaming bill will have a better shot at passage. With 4.5 million people, Kentucky could add a decent player pool to the growing US online poker market.
Online gaming gains traction in Connecticut
Lamont previously expressed opposition to online gaming, but state revenue after the pandemic may have changed that.
The tribes operate the states only casinos in the state – Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods. On Wednesday, Lamont included $50 million in iGaming revenue in his 2022-23 budget and expressed his support for legalization.
“Our neighboring states are moving forward with sports betting and iGaming,” Lamont said a budget address to the general assembly, “and Connecticut should not leave these opportunities for other states to benefit from our inaction.”
Connecticut has a population of 3.6 million. That would mean a small pool of players, but a decent addition to interstate compacts. There remains plenty of governmental heavy lifting however.
North Dakota statewide election considered
The Senate Judiciary Committee in North Dakota recently approved a ballot initiative legalizing online poker. The proposal would then need a majority of votes in both halves of the legislature before going to the voters.
Next the proposal would need a majority of voters to approve. Rep. Jim Kasper (R) has been one of those leading the efforts at legalization.
He believes the timing is right to move forward after other states like Michigan and West Virginia have launched online gaming.
“The accusations have been ‘how do you police the legitimacy of the game?’” Kasper told Valley News Live. “And the question has been pretty well-answered over the years. There’s a lot of protection for the players and there [are] audits being done.”
More recent department opinions have ruled online gaming legal on a state-by-state basis. A federal appeals court recently ruled that the Wire Act applies solely to sports betting.
That would allow smaller population states like North Dakota to join interstate compacts. With 762,000 people, North Dakota seems unlikely to support its own poker market. However, joining other states could produce larger player and prize pools.
Indiana and other states to watch
Efforts continue at online gaming in Indiana. Sen. Jon Ford (R) introduced a bill in January. However, passing a bill is an uphill battle with a legislative session running only through April.
Ford hopes to add online gaming to that. He’s working to get the bill before the Senate Public Policy Committee. His proposal would allow the state’s 14 casinos and “racinos” to offer Internet gaming and poker. Properties could partner with up to three online gaming companies.
In Michigan, players seem to be enjoying playing at PokerStars so far. The site remains the only operator and has seen nice numbers in Sunday majors.
In other PA news, GGPoker was granted a manufacturer’s license in the state. That means it could provide its software for another gaming entity. The company would need an operator’s license to launch its own branded platform
The recent Wire Act ruling could mean additional online poker shared liquidity markets among states. Any efforts in that regard may take some time as they work their way through various regulatory bodies.