The lingering difficulties caused by the global economic crisis continue to plague the United States, leaving many states near insolvency and looking for funds. That search for new revenue streams is leading a number of administrations to consider the legalization and regulation of gambling to create jobs and bring badly needed funds into the government coffers.
While the federal government considers legislation that allows online poker, a 2006 bill called the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act is set to become law on June 1st. In spite of this law, individual states like California, New Jersey, Florida and Connecticut are looking to legalize online gambling.
Why? Revenue and jobs. The recession of the past three years has cost the US millions of jobs and billions in tax revenue. A recent study by H2 Gambling Capital determined that nearly 32,000 jobs could be created and $57.5 billion in tax revenue raised in the first five years alone after legalizing of gambling and poker, creating a kind of economic stimulus that could have a lasting effect.
Difficult times force difficult decisions, and many lawmakers are warming up to legalized online poker. “It is generally easier to pass something like this in a recession,” says Lloyd Levine, a political consultant working for the pro-poker effort. “Every time there’s an economic contraction, sure enough, you start seeing local repeal efforts [of gambling laws],” says David Laband, an economics professor at Auburn University.
Slow movement by the federal government has states looking to legislate and tax Internet gambling, particularly online poker. As states look to gambling to for increased revenue, this effort is gaining momentum and looks as though it might succeed, even if the UIGEA goes into effect as planned on June 1st.