Online Poker May Be on the Horizon for North Dakota

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Online poker may be on the cards for residents of North Dakota if the 2022 general election ballot includes the measure as a constitutional amendment.

Can Online Poker Be Legalized in North Dakota by 2023?

House Concurrent Resolution 3012, proposed on January 14 by Rep. Jim Kasper, R-Fargo, seeks to put online poker on the 2022 general election ballot for state residents to vote on. The measure, which requires only a simple majority vote to pass into law, would lead to a constitutional change and launch the process of legalization of online poker in North Dakota.

Kasper stated that the country is embracing online gaming more and more. North Dakota should not be one of the few states that are left out, the representative added. He said that if the measure passes, it would be a lot of work, but North Dakota could join the other states in the existing interstate poker liquidity, which includes New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Delaware. They have already legalized online poker. In most of these states, including Pennsylvania, online poker is already thriving.

There are no clear details on how poker would be regulated or how taxation would work. The only thing that residents are going to vote on is whether the online game should be allowed in the state or not. If the vote passes, online poker will have to be couched in legal and regulatory terms. Details would follow later, as Legislature would set up a committee in 2023.

It is not clear how much North Dakota would generate from online poker. Rep. Kasper first drafted a bill proposing the regulation of online poker in the state back in 2005.

The Wire Act’s Stopping Power

Then, the U.S. Justice Department refused to make any gambling legal, based on the Federal Wire Act, which bans the interstate transmission of any form of betting or gambling information through wire communications.

This was a missed opportunity for the state. By one estimate, the 2005 legislation could have led to annual taxes worth up to $500 million. The current proposal doesn’t mention any specific tax estimates, but rather focuses on pushing the measure through the ballot.

According to state law, any revenue from gambling in North Dakota goes to charitable, educational, and other beneficial uses for the public.

Kasper recently shared that he had played poker as a kid but his interest in the game had developed with Texas Hold ‘em on the World Series of Poker on TV in 2003. The game was very popular at the time. What had fascinated him then was that it wasn’t the typical card game he knew. That led to his first attempt to legalize poker in the state back then.

In 2019 the Justice Department stated that according to the Wire Act all forms of internet gambling were not allowed. Last week the U.S. First Circuit of Appeals ruled against the Justice Department’s decision and stated that non-sports betting was excluded.

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