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Kevin Smith

North Dakota Lawmaker Impressed by Industry Response After Schedule Change

24 February 2005

If the interactive gaming industry's response to a sudden schedule change is any indication to its support of a bill that would legalize Internet poker in North Dakota the initiative has the blessing of some of the leading operators and industry representatives.

HB 1509, which would license and regulate online poker rooms, was scheduled for a Senate Judiciary committee hearing on March 15. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Jim Kasper, was busy coordinating the event in hopes of getting a large contingent from the industry to come, not only for the hearing, but two-plus days of scheduled events.

Kasper said he was getting great vibes from industry leaders, operators, suppliers and even professional players who have relationships with online rooms.

On Thursday morning Senate leaders requested that the hearing be pushed up a week, from March 15 to March 8. Kasper said he was willing to compromise with leaders but didn't want to make a firm commitment on moving the date until he was able to gauge if representatives from the industry would be able to attend on the new date.

Within hours Kasper had his answer.

"My thanks for almost 100 percent of the industry representatives being able to accommodate the change in dates at the 11th hour," he said. "My sincere apologies go out for those who can not come. We simply ran up against legislative deadlines."

The change to request the hearing date was in large part due to the Senate Majority leader's desire to have ample time for the full Senate to consider the bill along with the Attorney General to take part in the hearing.

March 15 is one of the last days bills can be voted out of committee and sent to the full House or Senate and the state's AG was going to be unable to attend the March 15 hearing in person, even though he supports the bill.

"We have a much better chance of passing the bill out of committee on March 8 now because we have accommodated the legislatures."

Kasper still intends to have three days of activities scheduled, starting with a dinner on Sunday March 6 with the Governor and other state officials and members of the industry. Monday will include a major press conference at the Capitol building along with representatives from online poker meeting with lawmakers and other high ranking state officials.

Included among the list of confirmed speakers for the new date are former New Jersey gaming regulator and longtime online gaming advocate Frank Catania; attorney Patrick O'Brien; Sportingbet (Paradise Poker) CEO Nigel Payne; River City Group CEO Sue Schneider (publisher of IGN); BoDog CEO Calvin Ayre; and a host of others from the industry that are expected to confirm before the week ends.

"The response and commitment of the Internet Poker Industry has been fantastic," Kasper said. But he also reminded industry leaders, operators, suppliers, vendors and others involved in online poker, that the Senate committee hearing would be a key step for the bill.

"We have this 'One Moment in Time,' to jointly make this happen," he said. "Don't let up now. The more people who show up the better, just the fact that people from all over the United States and all over the World, will come to Bismarck, from all phases of the Industry, will make a powerful statement to the Governor, the Attorney General, my fellow legislators, the media and the people of North Dakota."

Kasper echoed his plea to the professional poker players that they too will play a key part in the process.

"Those that are capable of bringing the professional player here shouldn't discount the importance of having a number of them here," he said. "Their celebrity status will be a very positive step for this bill, particularly to a state as small in population as we are."

North Dakota Lawmaker Impressed by Industry Response After Schedule Change is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith