North Dakota representative may abandon pro-poker initiative

Republican representative Jim Kasper from Fargo, N.D., has announced he may abandon his efforts to push for an initiative to license Internet poker and card rooms in North Dakota due to a lack of funding from supporters in the online gaming industry. Kasper, a longtime Internet poker advocate, believes legalizing online poker would bring millions of dollars in licensing revenues to North Dakota.

Kasper has attended numerous Internet gaming conferences to promote the initiative and collect money for a campaign. He proposed a cost of $1 million to run the campaign but received no formal commitments from representatives of gaming firms.

"At this point in time, there's nothing, and very soon, I've got to say the door is closed, and not go any further," he said.

Kasper blames his failure to secure concrete financial backing on the decentralized nature of the Internet gaming industry.

"I need to figure out, and I haven't yet, how to get the industry to make a commitment to fund an initiated measure, and they're not organized. They're all over the world," he said. "How do I bring them all together? That's my problem, and I have not solved that problem yet."

In a last effort to push the initiative, Kasper and his fellow poker advocates are hoping to collect enough petition signatures to bypass the Legislature and put the issue directly to the people in a referendum vote on the next ballot, which is in November 2006.

To get the initiative organized in time, Kasper would need to establish a campaign fundraising committee, write drafts of the initiated law and constitutional amendments, and submit petitions for approval to North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger, as well as raise $1 million to fund the campaign.

Once the campaign is in order, Kasper's people would need to collect 12,844 signatures for the initiated ballot and 25,688 signatures for the constitutional amendment, all by August 8, 2006.

Kasper first sponsored a bill and constitutional amendment to legalize the licensing and regulation of Internet poker during the 2005 Legislature. His attempt was approved in the House but rejected by the Senate.

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