Online Gaming Dealt a Setback

Online gaming was dealt a setback in two of the country’s largest potential markets over the last week when the California and Nevada legislatures moved separately to keep the industry out of their states. The legality of Internet gambling remains a cloudy issue, with some saying existing federal laws prohibit the practice while others say it should be allowed. The subject has also been hotly debated in the U.S. Congress.

In the meantime, however, a bill in the Nevada legislature that would have set up an infrastructure to regulate online gaming had passed in the state’s Assembly and was being debated in the Senate when it ran into a roadblock.

The bill had passed through the Senate’s Judiciary Committee earlier in the month, but was removed from a scheduled vote in the Senate on Saturday.

The state’s gaming lobby had strongly backed the measure, and vowed not to give up the fight until the state’s legislature adjourns on Monday.

In California, meanwhile, a bill to ban Internet gaming passed in the state’s Assembly on Wednesday on a 61-2 vote, said Democratic Assemblyman Dario Frommer, author of the measure.

The bill — which must still be approved by the Senate and Gov. Gray Davis — would ban Internet gambling. It also would clarify California law to make it a misdemeanor for anyone to knowingly offer, solicit or facilitate play of a prohibited online game to a California resident, a Frommer spokesman said.

“The current explosion of unregulated Internet casinos leaves Californians just a mouse-click away from losing their hard-earned money to fraudulent offshore casinos,” Frommer said in a statement. “This bill will put an end to that.”

California Gov. Gray Davis has not yet indicated if he will sign the legislation, but in the past he has show a bias toward bills against the expansion of gambling in the state, said spokesman Roger Salazar.

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