A national coalition of state lawmakers has announced it will form a committee to prepare model gambling legislation for states to consider, with online casino topping the agenda.
The National Council of Legislators from Gaming States (NCLGS) announced on Thursday (January 4) that the committee will hold public hearings with a variety of industry stakeholders as early as March.
It then hopes to have model iGaming legislation ready to unveil at the group’s summer meeting in July.
“Obviously iGaming is the talk of the town right now. It’s been slow moving in states compared to sports betting,” said NCLGS president Shawn Fluharty, a member of West Virginia’s House of Delegates, during the group’s annual winter meeting in Fort Lauderdale.
“What we want to do is help policymakers and regulators who come to our conferences take something back with them, and what we want to take back is good policy.”
Fluharty said stakeholders will include academics from West Virginia University, independent consultancies and law firms.
“We talk about consumer protection all the time, we’re going to beef that up,” he said. “We talk about transparency all the time, we’re going to do that as well.
“And we’re going to put some model legislation together so that legislators like yourselves, and those who will be listening in, can take some feedback back to your district and put together good legislation that’s going to raise revenue and not taxes.”
David Rebuck, director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, said that if additional states legalize online casino gaming, the three main considerations would be who serves as gatekeepers of market access, how many skins should be in play for each operator, and what a state’s tax policy should be, including tax volume and how revenue would be used.
"Internet gaming is a bit concerning to people, because is it going to be another expansion similar to what happened in sports wagering with the rapid tsunami growth explosion, particularly into the internet world where, as we all know, probably 90 percent of the wagers are placed online?” Rebuck said.
“Those three key policy decisions, they’re going to pretty much drive the legislature’s determination on other things.
“But those three are the ones you’re going to have the most input from stakeholders who have an opinion they’re going to want you to consider.”
Part of the ongoing conversation regarding the slower-than-expected, and in some cases slower than many hoped for, expansion of online casino in the United States has been the cause’s lack of momentum, unlike that seen in sports-betting conversations over the last five years.
“There’s not such a robust narrative behind iGaming as there has been behind sports betting, with a lot of the momentum created by the repeal of PASPA” in 2019, said Martin Lycka, senior vice president of American regulatory affairs and responsible gaming for Entain.
“This does not exist when it comes to iGaming and I would suggest that it’s up to us as an industry and everybody else involved in this space and ecosystem to create the narrative and build on addressing the potential concerns around responsible gambling.”
Daron Dorsey, executive director of the Association of Gaming Equipment Managers (AGEM), agreed.
“I think [with] sports betting, people are familiar and had an affinity for it, they were doing it in some form or fashion, even if it’s you and I bet for a beer watching the game.
“That activity is ingrained, we’re comfortable with that versus the technology of taking a land-based environment and turning it into a digital environment,” he said.