Mississippi Rep Moak makes fourth attempt at Online Poker Regulation

The legal US online poker industry isn’t expected to expand very much in 2015. California is the only state on the list that has a decent chance of passing an online poker bill this year, but you can’t blame others for trying. Representative Bobby Moak of Mississippi proposed another Internet Gaming measure on Monday; his fourth attempt in as many years.

Rep. Moak’s Mississippi online poker bill (HB 306) was introduced on Jan 12, 2015, entitled “Mississippi Lawful Internet Gaming Act of 2015”. Unfortunately for online poker players in the Magnolia State, there’s very little chance of the bill becoming a law this year.Mississippi Gaming Commission

There simply isn’t enough support in the state to back the democrat’s proposal, just as he lacked support for his 2012, 2013 and 2014 renditions. Instead, his online poker bill will likely garner the same results as the companion bills introduced by Senator John Bonacic and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow in New York, where both admitted their real purpose (in 2014 and 2015) was to keep discussions open, not to get online poker regulation passed.

According to the introductory text of the Mississippi online poker bill, Moak’s purpose is to protect consumers who are already participating in gambling over the internet at off-shore websites, which lack any kind of jurisdictional “oversight, regulation or enforcement, all of which raises significant concerns for the protection of our citizens.”

Key Benefits of Moak’s Online Poker Bill

Moak’s bill continues by listing a number of key benefits for the state and its population. “An effective state regulatory and licensing system for online gaming would”:

–          inhibit underage gambling
–          protect vulnerable individuals
–          ensure that the games offered through the Internet are fair and safe
–          stop sending much-needed jobs and tax and fee revenue overseas to illegal operators
–          provide a significant source of taxable revenue
–          create jobs and economic development
–          address the concerns of law enforcement
–          ensure that only those persons of good character and fitness, who meet strict criteria set forth in law and regulations, are suitable to facilitate and conduct online gaming activities.

Over the last four years, Rep. Moak’s online poker bills did have one solid effect, helping to create an online gambling study task force headed by Allen Godfrey, Executive Director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission. The results of that study are already overdue, projected for end of 2014, but if they are released soon enough, could give some extra merit to Moak’s proposed legislation.

Time is short for Mississippi in 2015

Time is running out fast, though. The bill must pass through the House and on to the Senate by the crossover deadline of February 23. If the results of the study are not released in time for review and persuasion of House support, the bill could earn yet another dusty year on the shelf.

Being home to a large number of state-authorized land-based casinos (with declining revenue), Mississippi could be a prime candidate for a successful internet gaming market. However, underwhelming performances in major gambling-oriented states like Nevada and New Jersey won’t present a very positive argument to convince legislators to regulate online poker in Mississippi.

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