North Dakota Rep. may pull pro-Internet poker campaign

Rep. Jim Kasper of Fargo, N.D., may finally be forced to abandon his efforts to legalize Internet poker in North Dakota after the U.S. House of Representatives voted 317 to 93 July 11 in favor of banning Internet gambling in the United States.

Kasper, a longtime supporter of online poker, said he is unsure how the new bill will affect his pro-Internet poker initiative, which he hoped would make North Dakota the first state in the U.S. to license online poker rooms.

The Republican congressman originally introduced the idea during the 2005 Legislature when he proposed a bill and a North Dakota constitutional amendment that would allow the state to license, regulate and tax Internet poker sites, which are currently based in offshore locals such as Gibraltar, Antigua and Costa Rica. His proposals made it through the House but were shot down in the Senate.

He said he is hesitant to give up his support of the initiative because he believes licensing online poker rooms is a great way to generate revenue, which he hopes will be used to fund local property tax cuts. Kasper is also proposing that the state-owned Bank of North Dakota be used to process the financial transactions of each poker room.

Most recently, Kasper was attempting to bring the leaders of the Internet poker industry together to present a unified front to critics, but his attempts failed because of a lack of financial commitment on the part of the online poker industry. Kapser was then faced with the challenge of circulating petitions throughout North Dakota in an effort to bring the issue to a public vote. Unfortunately, this initiative never took off.

Kapser has not given up, however. He has been asked to speak at Poker Summit North America in October and plans to put forth a new online poker proposal to the Legislature in 2007 that will focus on protecting underage and problem gamblers from Internet poker. He said he will consult with industry groups when drafting the new legislation.

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