Will online poker become legal?

A number of states -- seeing the potential for big tax revenue -- are slowly moving toward approving this segment of online gaming.

By Kim Peterson Jun 14, 2012 6:02PM
The CEO of Caesars Entertainment (CZR) has been crusading to legalize online gambling, and he makes some good points.

Online poker will become legal, Gary Loveman said in an interview with CNN. Already, several states are inching toward making it legal.

"I can say with tremendous confidence that people will be able to play play online legally in the United States in many places very soon," he said in the interview.

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You can play online poker now, but nearly all of the games are run by offshore companies. And while the federal government (and those of many states) do not approve of the activity, they don't often bust individuals who are playing.

"Today we have this bizarre situation where it is legal for an American to play online poker for money using a game that is provided by an illegal offshore entity," Loveman said. "I think it is very hard to imagine why we would allow Americans to buy a service that no American company can offer." If the federal government were to legitimize online poker, it would be able to regulate the activity, he added.

But here's the biggest incentive of all: a windfall from taxes. Loveman estimated that under a federally regulated scenario, the U.S. online poker industry could rake in $6 billion to $8 billion a year. If states did this on their own -- and that's looking the most likely -- the revenue would be $2 billion to $3 billion to start.

The federal government would get about 15% of that revenue if it regulated online poker, Loveman estimated.

Online poker is having a tough time getting approval in many states, however. A California state senator recently canceled a hearing about legalizing online poker, and observers said the proposal didn't have enough votes even to get out of committee. Indian casinos and local card clubs had concerns about the issue.

Nevada has made the most progress in clearing online poker. Its state Gaming Control Board gave Bally Technologies a unanimous recommendation to receive an interactive gaming license. Bally was the first company approved for licensing by the board, but it faces more hurdles before it can roll out an online poker service. Bally heads to the state's gaming commission later this month.

Delaware is also moving forward with an Internet gaming bill.

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Jun 14, 2012 7:38PM
why are these dumb states letting the indians reap all the rewards?  california is really asleep as to how much the i ndian casinos are raking in.
Jun 14, 2012 11:01PM
I see it as a win-win which it should have been all along.  Post your blinds and antes folks, deal 'em up!
Jun 15, 2012 7:33AM
Not a gamber myself, odds stacked against the player. Would much rather buy and sell, where the odds are stacked in my favor. However if Americans can legally gamble on off shore sites, on the internet, it is foolish to not allow US companies to offer gambling, in this country, and get the added tax revenue.
Jun 14, 2012 7:56PM
i thought the same thing myself... we gave blood to take this land now we just giving our money to the same people? USA is full of retards
Jun 14, 2012 9:28PM
What makes you think the tribes are behind it? Like nearly everything else in America, the business administration takes the lion's share. Online gambling would be just another counter-productive way to degenerate the greatest nation on Earth to inactive oblivion. If this is the best use of technology, unplug it.
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