On Tuesday, the North Dakota House of Representatives passed House Concurrent Resolution No. 3012 by a 54-40 vote. A similar resolution for sports wagering was also approved in the House by a 70-24 vote. Under the resolutions, voters would decide on whether to allow the state constitution to be amended to allow for the gambling expansion.
“There’s thousands of people in the state of North Dakota who are playing online poker. It’s not regulated. It’s not taxed. We don’t know for sure if the machines are fair or not because we don’t know anything about it,” Rep. Jim Kasper, R-Fargo, said, according to KFYR.
It’s unclear how the Senate will come down on the resolutions.
Efforts to legalize online poker in the state first began in 2005, though for years the efforts were dead before resurfacing recently. Efforts for sportsbooks were made possible by a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The state was unable to advance bills in previous sessions.
Currently, only Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and most recently Michigan have regulated online poker sites. West Virginia legalized it but hasn’t seen any poker sites launch. Other states are considering it in 2021, but North Dakota appears to have the best chances.
Impact of North Dakota online poker
North Dakota’s population is well under a million people, but, as Kasper alluded to, there are “thousands of people” who play online poker in the state. That doesn’t necessarily mean on a regular basis, however.
Right now, North Dakotans can only access offshore poker sites.
With a population even smaller than Delaware’s, North Dakota isn’t an attractive ring-fenced online poker market. However, it could be a welcome addition to liquidity sharing with other states sharing player pools for regulated online poker.
Right now, only the WSOP/888 poker network is able to pool its players across Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware. New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan are expected to look into allowing PokerStars, along with others, to share players between their respective borders.
Wherever North Dakota fits in would be a nice boost for a multi-state network for an operator or operators.
North Dakota launching regulated online poker sites could also spur other states to move as well. The likes of Iowa, Indiana, New York, California, Connecticut, and Hawaii have all at least flirted with iPoker.
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