After the U.S. Justice Department paved the way for states to legalize Internet gambling last December, a handful of states are pursuing online gaming as a way to build up dwindling state coffers.
Nevada and D.C. have already approved Internet gambling and are accepting applications for licenses — one way states can generate revenue in addition to taking a small percentage off each winning pot. Both states have approved online poker, but D.C. also has legalized blackjack and bingo.
California is holding hearings on the matter this week. In New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has said he wants to make his state the "epicenter" of the online gambling industry, according to a report in The New York Times. Iowa is also seriously considering the issue.
In Europe all forms of gambling are legal online and one industry insider says it won't be long before the U.S. follows suit.
"Online gaming is the future of the [gambling] industry," says Richard "Skip" Bronson, chairman and founder of U.S. Digital Gaming, the nation's leading all-American online gambling operator, and author of The War at the Shore.
While a growing number of states see Internet gambling as a solution to their fiscal problems, the amount of additional revenues it could generate varies widely. California estimates it could generate anywhere from $100 million to $250 million a year, but Iowa projects it will bring in $3 million to $13 million a year (of course, the population in the Cornhuskers state is much smaller than in California).
At the same time, some family advocacy groups have voiced concerns that the costs of legalizing Internet gambling far outweigh the benefits. "We are going to find ourselves with more broken homes and families than we can afford," Kent Ostrander, founder of The Family Foundation of Kentucky , told the Associated Press earlier this month.
"The numbers are too immense and the states too desperate for revenue to look the other way," says Bronson."It is always going to be challenged, in one form or another by different groups but the fact is this is moving forward and we will have legal online gambling probably starting with poker certainly running in some states by 2013."
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