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Kevin Smith

North Dakota Representative Calls on I-Gaming Industry for Support

18 February 2005

Now that his bill to regulate and license online poker rooms has passed in the North Dakota House of Representatives, Rep. Jim Kasper is reaching out to the interactive gaming industry for support in moving it through the Senate.

"I personally believe that the ability for us to pass HB 1509 in the North Dakota Senate depends entirely on the degree to which the poker industry rises to the occasion and is physically present here in Bismarck."
- Rep. Jim Kasper

A Senate hearing on the bill is scheduled for March 15 in Bismarck, and Kasper is hoping to get as many operators, analysts, providers, players and others involved in the industry as possible to show their support for the bill by attending the hearing.

Kasper said there's a sense among some legislatures and regulators in North Dakota that even with a bill in place, operators won't want to relocate to the state when they could keep the status quo in their offshore jurisdictions.

It is up to the industry, he said, to dispel those myths.

"I personally believe that the ability for us to pass HB 1509 in the North Dakota Senate depends entirely on the degree to which the poker industry rises to the occasion and is physically present here in Bismarck," he said. "I want to particularly encourage poker Internet companies and professional players, to consider coming to this event."

Kasper believes the industry has embraced the idea of regulation.

"If the response I have had so far is any indication of what we will experience, we will be in good shape," he said in reference to how solid of a showing the industry will have at the hearing.

Kasper also credited Frank Catania, a former gaming regulator in New Jersey and now head of his own consulting firm that advocates online gaming regulation throughout the world, as well as Card Player magazine for helping him over the last month to get the bill passed.

In addition to the forthcoming Senate hearing, Kasper is spearheading two days of meetings and activities that he hopes will increase publicity for his bill and get others behind the concept of having licensed and regulated online poker rooms based in North Dakota.

He's arranging a private dinner scheduled for March 13 with leading politicians in the state and representatives with the online poker industry and already has commitments from Governor John Hoeven, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, Senate Majority Leader Bob Stenehjem, House Majority Leader Rick Berg and others

Kasper will hold a press conference on March 14 and additional meetings at the Capitol building with the governor and high-ranking legislators.

Kasper is hoping to host a social mixer on the evening of the 14th with statewide elected officials, legislators, business leaders, the commerce department and members of the media.

Kasper said testimony in the Senate committee hearing will likely center around a handful of hot topics, including:

  • the Wire Act and the likelihood of the U.S. Department of Justice suing North Dakota if it passes HB 1509;

  • the prospect of Internet poker companies coming to North Dakota if the bill is passed;

  • the potential economic impact for the state if an entire industry (online poker), or even parts of it, decides to relocate operations to the state;

  • how the industry could be regulated fairly and successful in the state;

  • why the Internet poker industry wants regulation in North Dakota, or any other U.S. State;

  • what steps will be taken to address a possible increase of problem gambling cases and other social issues that could arise with the introduction of online gambling in the state;

  • the industry's perspective on what would be a fair and equitable tax structure for Internet poker operations; and

  • the potential growth for the industry.

Kasper said getting the bill signed into law won't be easy, but he's confident that if enough solidarity is shown in Bismarck on March 15, a clear message would be sent to legislators and voters in North Dakota.

"We are not anywhere near victory yet, but I firmly believe that if the poker industry steps forward and makes this their priority, we will succeed in passing HB 1509 in the Senate," he said.

If the bill passes the Senate, it will require the signature of the governor, who has initially supported the bill, to become a law. The legalization of online poker would then require a constitutional amendment to be voted on by the state's residents.

North Dakota Representative Calls on I-Gaming Industry for Support is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith