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Colorado and Pennsylvania Considering Online Poker

Two states are eyeing the introduction of legal online gaming in light of the success the industry seems to be experiencing in New Jersey.

An effort last year to legalize online poker in Colorado may have failed, but a recent report suggests the idea is far from dead in the Colorado statehouse.

And with Nevada now offering online poker, many in Colorado are watching carefully to see if they should make another attempt to legalize the game.

“This is something we are monitoring very closely,” Troy Stremming, executive vice president of government relations for Pinnacle Entertainment, owner of Colorado’s largest casino, Ameristar Black Hawk, told the Denver Post. “Internet gaming continues to evolve state by state and through ever-changing technology. With respect to Colorado, when there is a piece of legislation to review, we can make decisions based on whether or not participation will be beneficial to the company.”

However, any move to start online gambling suffered a significant setback after the report came out, when Colorado Attorney General John Suthers issued a legal opinion that lawmakers cannot expand gaming within the state without an amendment to the Colorado state constitution.

The constitution prohibits games of chance, but a constitutional amendment in 1990 allowed for “limited gaming” in three districts—Central, Black Hawk and Cripple Creek. The Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that poker is a game of chance.

Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania State Senate has passed a resolution to initiate a study of the potential of legalizing internet gaming in the state.

The resolution, though simply a procedural step, could initiate an effort to create a new iGaming industry in response to the internet gaming program set up in neighboring New Jersey, which went live in late November. Proponents of the measure last month pointed to the recent leveling-off of gaming revenues from Pennsylvania’s 12 casinos, as well as new competition in New York and Massachusetts, as a motive to stay ahead of the curve in competing with New Jersey’s nascent iGaming industry.

The measure calls for an impact study of internet gaming, to measure the potential effects on the land-based casino industry, on employment, and on the gaming revenue tax the state enjoys, which has topped the nation. The study also would estimate benefits of potential revenue from online gaming against a growing budget deficit. The resolution does not identify which games should be offered online.

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