Internet poker supporters attempt to salvage constitutional amendment - Saturday 12th of March 2005

A constitutional amendment to require the Legislature to license Internet poker companies got a lukewarm reception from North Dakota senators, who have already defeated a bill to regulate online card rooms.

The Senate Judiciary Committee, which reviewed the amendment Wednesday, forwarded it to the full Senate without making a recommendation on whether it should be approved.

The panel had a similar deadlock on a separate bill to license and tax Internet poker sites, which went on to get a pummeling in the Senate. Only three of the 47 senators voted for it.

Rep. Jim Kasper, R-Fargo, who is the amendment's sponsor, said he would give "no wager, no odds" on its Senate prospects.

"I believe the people of North Dakota have the right to vote on this issue," he said at the Judiciary Committee hearing. "The revenue that could come to North Dakota from this is huge."

Former Gov. Arthur Link, a prominent gambling critic who testified against the measure Wednesday, said he was encouraged by the committee's lack of support.

"I don't want North Dakota to become known as the poker capital of the world," he told lawmakers.

Supporters of Kasper's legislation say North Dakota could earn millions in tax revenues with little effort by licensing Internet poker tables and taxing the proceeds, which are now collected by businesses headquartered in other countries.

"Why are we sending this (money) elsewhere? We can't pretend that it's not happening," said Mitch Schock of the Dakota Poker Tour, which organizes poker tournaments for charitable organizations.

North Dakota also could safeguard youngsters by requiring poker sites to exclude players younger than 18, a regulation that isn't guaranteed with overseas operations, Kasper said.

"The phenomenon of poker is here to stay, not only in the United States but around the world," he said. "We have an opportunity to be on the front end of the regulation of the industry on the Internet."

Opponents of the measure referred to the U.S. Justice Department's stand that Internet gambling of any kind is illegal. The government's position has stalled efforts in Nevada and the U.S. Virgin Islands to license Internet casinos.

"We're asking people to vote on something illegal, and if it passes, we're requiring the Legislature to do something illegal," said Warren DeKrey of Bismarck, the chairman of the North Dakota Council on Gambling Problems.

If approved by the Legislature, Kasper's measure would appear on the June 2006 primary ballot. If voters approve it, the amendment would direct the 2007 Legislature to "authorize Internet live poker located in the state and licensed and regulated by the state."

Online poker would then join charitable gambling and the lottery as exceptions to the North Dakota Constitution's ban on state-authorized wagering.

Sen. Tom Trenbeath, R-Cavalier, wondered if the amendment should instead ask North Dakotans to repeal the gambling prohibition. It says: "The legislative assembly shall not authorize any game of chance, lottery, or gift enterprises, under any pretense, for any purpose whatsoever."

"This is like being nibbled to death by a thousand ducks," Trenbeath said. "If the constitution should be amended, shouldn't it be amended to remove the impediment rather than to mandate an action?"

The committee deadlocked several times, tallying 3-3 votes on motions to amend the resolution, and to recommend its approval and defeat. The six committee members eventually voted unanimously to send the bill to the Senate without recommendation.

The amendment, like Kasper's earlier Internet poker bill, already has been approved in the House.

Kasper said he could not predict the Senate's response, but he has said he will not pursue an initiated measure if the Legislature balks at licensing online poker.

"Put it on the ballot and let the people make their decision. That's what I hope the Senate will do," he said.

Other news from around the same time

New head of Gaming Board promises action - Saturday 12th of March 2005

The Illinois Gaming Board met for the first time in seven months Thursday, with its new chairman pro....


French Lick casino gets a redeal - Saturday 12th of March 2005

Gambling companies have another shot at building a casino in French Lick after the Indiana Gaming Co....


Legislation would limit slot machines to electronic bingo, video lottery - Saturday 12th of March 2005

House leaders are proposing that Broward County pari-mutuels be limited to a less intensive gambling....


Casino design is no game of luck - Saturday 12th of March 2005

While all the buzz in Hong Kong recently has been about the rebounding economy, just a short distanc....


Harrah's Uses Ground Zero Architect for Singapore Bid - Saturday 12th of March 2005

Harrah's Entertainment Inc., which is using the Caesars brand for its Singapore casino proposal, is ....


Sun in run for Singapore casino - Saturday 12th of March 2005

South Africa's Sun International has been reported on in the local press as one of the 19 bids recei....


Poker picks up among students - Saturday 12th of March 2005

Check, bet, call, raise and fold. Each term alone can carry a variety of meanings, but as a combinat....


Texas Hold 'Em Bill To Get Help From Pro - Saturday 12th of March 2005

A bill to legalize Texas Hold 'em tournaments in Minnesota will get some help from a top professiona....


Century Casinos Presents to Iowa Commission - Saturday 12th of March 2005

Century Casinos, Inc.announced today that, through Landmark Gaming LC, it is presenting the proposed....


A Triumphant Season for Team Slotland.com - Saturday 12th of March 2005

Canadian Curling team, Team Slotland.com, is one step closer to their Olympic dream after their perf....