INTERNET GAMING UPDATE: Senate Leaders Confirm Deal, Tribes Examine Discussion Draft >>

August 20th, 2012

INTERNET GAMING UPDATE: Senate Leaders Confirm Deal, Tribes Examine Discussion Draft

As expected, federal activity to legalize Internet gaming is gaining steam in 2012, due in part to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) change in legal position on the applicability of the Wire Act announced on December 23, 2011. As a result, a number of states have moved their lotteries online, and at least two (Nevada and Delaware) have passed local laws to regulate other forms of online gaming (poker and casino games).

Reports have been confirmed that the Senate Majority Leader and the Republican Whip have come to agreement and are working towards passage of a bill to authorize Internet poker. This agreement brings together proponents of legalizing Internet gaming with social conservatives opposed to Internet gaming. The reported deal would limit online gaming Internet poker while broadening the application of the Wire Act to reverse the DOJ opinion. As a result of this bi-partisan and diverse coalition, the outlook for passage of an Internet gaming bill in 2012 must be taken seriously.

At the same time, many obstacles remain. State governments that have placed lotteries online and those that wish to go further have already written Congress in opposition of legislation that would limit their ability to conduct Internet gaming. Nothing is expected to move until the after the November 6, 2012 elections.

Indian country remains very concerned that legalized Internet gaming will harm brick-and-mortal Indian gaming operations, which for more than 30 years has enabled tribal governments to begin to rebuild community infrastructure and provide essential health, education, and public safety services to tribal citizens. The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA) has released a draft bill that seeks to protect tribal interests.

Meetings will take place throughout Indian country over the next several months to further address tribal concerns. The National Indian Gaming Association has scheduled a meeting on the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Reservation for August 21st. NIGA will hold additional meetings during its Midyear Conference on the Seminole Tribe’s Reservation in Florida on September 18-19.

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