Online Poker USMississippi is the fifth US state to make moves towards introducing an intra-state online gaming bill – which is certainly good news for poker players hoping to get back into online poker after the events of Black Friday last April 15.

The southern state’s decision to consider a bill – provided by Republican representative Bobby Moak and named the Mississippi Lawful Internet Gaming Act of 2012 – follows on from the same results in Iowa, New Jersey, Nevada and Hawaii.

Western state Nevada has, of course, adopted their bill and have now moved towards making online poker a reality, while mid-western state Iowa only recently supplied the Senate State Government Committee with their own potential bill for consideration relating to intra-state poker.

Meanwhile, Moak’s bill aims to legalise, as well as regulate, all internet gambling – which will include poker among the main games optioned.

Bill Provides Masses of Important Information

The extensive bill provides in-depth detail, as well as proposed foundations, for the regulating of internet gaming through the establishment of policies and methods for applications and licences, standards for internet providers, and safeguards for players and employees.

Any business aiming to provide internet gambling within the state must first be granted a licence by the Mississippi Gaming Commission, as well as pay any fees, which – according to Moak’s bill – will be at least $200,000, before being considered.

Additionally, any renewal of licences by companies will be subject to an application fee of at least $100,000.

The bill also mentions that players must be at least 21 years old to participate in internet gambling – and that includes poker – while a non-refundable deposit of no less than $100,000 has to be paid by every licence applicant.

Licensed Firms Cannot Offer Gaming to Employees

Employees with licensed companies who wish to take part in internet gambling will be banned from signing up to any website run by their employers, while the bill also states that fines – from between $50,000 and $200,000 – will be imposed on anyone who “knowingly” alters, tampers or manipulates “software, computers or other equipment used to conduct internet wagering”.

The proposed law also emphasises that the Mississippi Gaming Commission will only allow gaming equipment – including computers and software – to be used for internet gambling once “specifically tested and approved”.

Other important information for American poker players hoping to get back into online play – following the closure by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) of poker rooms such as PokerStars, Absolute Poker and Full Tilt Poker last year – was also provided, including the provision of funds depositing into websites via money orders, cash and cheques.

Inactive Accounts Will have Funds Removed

Iowa State Senator Rick Bertrand

However, if an account is left inactive for over 12 months, all funds will be paid to the gaming licensee. The company must then pay half of that sum to the commission while retaining the other 50%.

It’s a lot to consider, but let’s hope there is some development over the next few months and poker fans in the States can get back to playing the virtual version of the world’s best game.

Meanwhile, as alluded to above, Iowa has seen their online poker bill passed by the Senate State Government Committee in a vote that went 11-4 in favour.

This follows on from the legislative sub-committee approving the bill earlier in the week, and – while it has been criticised by many – Republican Senator Rick Bertrand, who represents the Sioux City area of Iowa, believes that this is not “an expansion of gambling” but more “an expansion of freedom”.

Iowa Republican Backs State Bill

No committee member spoke in opposition to the bill, but one Democrat and three Republicans did register a ‘no’ in the vote – although Republican Bill Dix, who represents Shell Shock, reckons the bill will ultimately protect Iowa citizens from disreputable companies.

This positive vote does not automatically mean the bill will make it through the full Senate, however, with local and national news website KCRG News reporting that Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal – who represents Council Bluffs in Iowa as a Democrat – has stated internet poker has just a 50/50 chance of gaining approval.

That might not been fantastic odds, but – as all poker players know – they’re not bad either. Well, most of us would accept that when placing our hole cards on the table for a showdown, so there is still hope aplenty.

Remember to regularly check back with the new Poker For Free for all updates concerning US online legislation and much more.