In yet another sign of a significant portion of our fine country not 'getting it' with respect to online poker, North Dakota HB 1509 was soundly defeated in the North Dakota senate, losing by a vote of 44-3.
While this does not completely kill the issue with respect to online poker companies setting up shop in North Dakota, it is a significant setback to say the least.
There is a concurrent piece of legislation, Bill 3035, which would allow the voters of North Dakota to decide on whether or not to amend the state constitution, a necessity for allowing online companies to set up regulation in the state. But Bill 3035 must clear a Senate vote, something that seems highly unlikely given the resounding defeat its sister piece of legislation just endured. The hearings, and votes for the concurrent bill begin Wednesday in Bismarck.
Among the usual ethical, and moral objections from the opponents of HB 1509, was the citing of the case of Susan Bala, owner of a company called "Racing Services, Inc." Bala had lobbied the Senators two years prior for a piece of legislation allowing her to operate her business, which takes bets on horse racing in North Dakota. Bala won her battle, and was allowed to do business in the state. Recently, however, Bala was brought up on twelve charges of money laundering, and other felony charges, and did not exactly set a shining example of how responsible gaming companies can be run.
Senator Bill Bowman, a staunch opponent of the bill, cited the Bala case, and had this to say "Gambling seems to lead to corruption. Once you've lost the money that you wagered, if you don't have it to lose, what's the next thing you do? You have to try to get it back some way," Bowman said. "A lot of times, it leads to very bad decisions."
It remains to be seen if there will be a state out there that will see that online poker is a business that is here to stay, and a business whose companies operate more like multi-national corporations than fly by night businesses. A fortune awaits the State that has the vision to see the potential, and limited downside that online poker could offer its voters. One state that will not be realizing those benefits is North Dakota.
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