|The IGC, the leading trade association for the international interactive gambling industry, is backing a bill that would legalize online poker and establish a structure to regulate and tax this form of entertainment. The bill passed on Feb 16 by the North Dakota House of Representatives will be the subject of a hearing in the state Senate on March 8.|
Rick Smith, executive director of the IGC said, “Thousands of people in the US and worldwide are playing online poker daily, and North Dakota has the chance to lead US jurisdictions in legally recognizing this reality. Its regulations would help protect players, while generating tax revenue for the state and nurturing a new local industry.”
The IGC realizes that establishing regulated online poker in North Dakota will not happen overnight, and encourages state officials to take the time to get it right. Published reports say that the governor supports the bill. Even if the bill is passed by the state Senate and signed by the governor, however, a constitutional amendment may have to be approved by the state’s voters.
“Poker is a very popular game,” said Keith Furlong, deputy director of the IGC. “It’s as American as jazz, baseball and apple pie. Yet because of the hostility of the federal government towards any form of online gaming, no poker sites have yet been based on American soil. The economic activity and the revenue associated with online poker remain offshore, where they provide no tax benefits to the US”
In January, Frank Catania testified before a meeting of the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States. Catania, the former director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, said, “This form of gambling cannot be stopped, but it can be effectively regulated and taxed.”