Online Poker Push in Illinois

Illinois State Senator John Cullerton is betting on poker.

A lot of states have looked at legalizing online poker. The state of Nevada is ready to go once the U.S. says its okay. They have everything in place. Other states such as California and New Jersey as well was Washington, D.C. have had major pushes, you could say “all-ins,” by various lawmakers who want to make online play legal in their region.

The Wire Act

The U.S. Department of Justice seemed to help clear the way for online poker by stating that the Wire Act did not pertain to the card game but that the law was concerned with sports betting.

U.S. Department of Justice has lessened the scope of the Wire Act.

The Wire Act prohibits gaming across state lines and was seen as being a major hurdle to online poker.

Although there have been intense lobbying efforts of the U.S. Congress for well over a year by the Poker Players Alliance and Fair Play U.S.A. and some pretty solid support from leading lawmakers, an Internet poker bill seems to be far off.

Illinois the Poker Hub?

State Senate President John Cullerton suggested on Tuesday that his state, Illinois, work towards becoming the major hub for online poker. He put forth a proposal for Internet gambling with just about two weeks left until the state senate adjourns.

In a letter to the governor and legislative leaders, Cullerton noted, “Certain forms of iGaming, especially poker, rely on large pools of potential players, and states that move swiftly to design a system that captures the widest audience of participants will have an advantage in terms of long-range success.” He also said, “The goal is to make the state nimble enough to adjust to new Internet gambling approaches.”

The senator wants to get the ball rolling before the legislature adjourns, which, considering the opposition such bills have faced in other jurisdictions, seems farfetched. However, his point is noteworthy in that when and if the U.S. passes an online poker bill, Illinois may be precluded from reaping the benefits unless they clearly state ahead of time that they are for online gambling. Cullerton does not want his state left out in the cold when it comes to sharing in tax revenues.

Speedy Opposition

Patty Schuh, spokeswoman for Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno of Lemont, said, “If you allow Internet poker to be sanctioned by the state of Illinois, there are a whole lot of questions that need to be answered. Being first isn’t necessarily a good thing.”

The state recently started selling lottery tickets online. Since that began in March, those sales have brought in $1.8 million. There are plans also to expand gaming at racetracks by adding slot machines.

Illinois Governor Quinn has his hands full with budget problems.

Governor Pat Quinn was tightlipped regarding the proposal as he struggles to balance his budget while dealing with rising costs of health care for the poor and public employee pensions.

No Quick Fix

Many states see online poker as a way to balance the books. But there’s no quick fix as it will take years to implement any legislation that eventually says online poker can be enjoyed by Americans without fear that a site will be closed down and without the hassles that now exist when players attempt to make a deposit.

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