January 31, 2021
With the Wolverine State going live last week, five states now offer licensed and regulated online poker – Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. If State Rep. Jim Kasper has anything to say about it, North Dakota will be added to the list.
Earlier this month, Kasper, a Republican who has represented District 46 (Fargo) since 2001, has introduced House Concurrent Resolution 3012, which seeks to put a measure on the 2022 general election ballot to ask residents whether or not they want to permit online poker. The measure has already shown bi-partisan support in the House.
“The country is just going more and more into gaming online,” Kasper said a week after introducing his bill. “Let’s not leave North Dakota as one of the few states that doesn’t allow it.”
If the measure makes it on the ballot and is passed by a simple majority, it would pass and change the state Constitution to allow for online poker. From there, the process of actually bringing online poker – such as taxes, legislation, etc. – would begin, meaning if all goes well 2023 would be the earliest timeframe online poker may appear in “The Peace Garden State,” which has a population of over 762,062 according to the 2020 census.
To put it another way, it’s a bare-bones amendment seeking to see whether or not North Dakota residents want online poker. If so, the details will be figured out after the fact.
Not the First Time Kasper has Tried
Kasper is actually a longtime poker player and advocate. He grew up playing poker as a kid with his uncle and day in their small coal-mining community. He then caught the bug during the “Poker Boom” after watching Chris Moneymaker win the World Series of Poker (WSOP) on ESPN, and he quickly became infatuated.
While visiting a cardroom in neighboring Minnesota, Kasper picked up a copy of CardPlayer Magazine and saw an article by Roy Cooke asking why no states in the US were legalizing and regulating online poker as companies were looking to set up shop in the country. Kasper got in contact with Cooke to learn more. He then did further research and opted to take the initiative by introducing a bill in 2005.
“It’s just a game I enjoy, I think other people should have the opportunity to play it as well.”
“It’s just a game I enjoy, I think other people should have the opportunity to play it as well,” Kasper has said in interviews.
As part of the process. Kasper invited people to come testify before the North Dakota Senate including Allyn Jaffrey Shulman and 2004 WSOP champ Greg Raymer as well as noted businessman Nigel Payne and a party gaming lawyer who came all the way from Israel.
“We put on a really good show. We had a poker night for the legislation showing them how to play the game,” said Kasper, who knocked Raymer out of a 10-player tournament but ultimately lost heads up to Shulman.
The entire industry was watching that bill, which easily passed the House, but ultimately failed in the Senate after the Attorney General sought an opinion on the Interstate Wire Act of 1961. Back then, it was their belief the Wire Act would cause trouble, so Senators afraid it would violate federal law voted it down 43-3.
However, earlier this year the US First Circuit Court of Appeals once again ruled that the Wire Act only applies to sports betting, once again opening the door for other online gaming across the country.
The 2005 legislation, which would have required online poker companies to set up operations in North Dakota, was projected to bring up to $500 million in annual taxes, 80 percent of which was slated to reduce property taxes. However, times have changed considerably since the “Poker Boom,” and Kasper realizes his efforts must change as well. That’s why he’s not focusing on the details at this point, but rather the simple question of whether or not North Dakota citizens should have online poker.
PokerNews Chats w/ Rep. Kasper
In last week’s episode of the PokerNews Podcast, Rep. Kasper was the featured guest joining straight from the floor of the state legislature. He was bullish on the possibility of his second bill succeeding.
“I believe if I can get the House and the Senate to put it on the ballot I think the people will pass it, but there is still a pretty powerful lobby here in North Dakota against the expansion of gaming,” he said. “You and I both know that people are playing on the internet, all kinds of things. Sports betting it pretty big. I am working on another bill right now to bring sports betting to North Dakota … people are gambling more and more, and people in North Dakota ought to have the opportunity in my opinion.”
Kasper then said that North Dakota poker players can help support the cause by contacting their representatives.
“The poker community in North Dakota, it would be very helpful if they sent emails to their representatives in their district. Flood them with emails in their owns words as to why they should pass the bill.”
Click here for a list of all North Dakota representatives along with their email and contact information.
As for players outside of North Dakota, they can show their support by helping generate awareness in the hope that other states will follow suit.
PokerNews will continue to monitor the online poker situation in North Dakota and bring you updates on Kasper’s efforts.