Bobby Moak, the representative of Mississippi, is trying again for online poker legalization in the state. On January 12, he introduced the Mississippi Lawful Internet Gaming Act of 2015, also known as House Bill 306, and referred it to the committees of Gaming, Ways and Means, and Rules.
Bobby Moak has been trying for online poker legalization in Mississippi for the past four years. Not a person to give up easily, he admits that he is not confident of any law being enacted this year. Since Mississippi is experiencing an election year, the chances of HB 306 getting any attention are almost zero. However, Moak wants to his colleagues to start thinking about online poker.
The bill aims to protect licensed operators as well as gamblers. Anybody who operates an online gambling service without a license will have to pay a fine of $100k and/or face a prison term of as many as 10 years. Companies that illegally operate an online gambling service in Mississippi will have to pay a fine of $500,000. It is quite obvious that the bill aims to discourage companies and individuals from operating online poker businesses without first getting the license to do so.
HB 306 also aims to protect its residents from companies that operate online poker businesses illegally. Individuals who play online poker games at home can be imprisoned for as many as three years and/or have to pay a fine of $10,000. The bill empowers law enforcement officers to seize anything used by players to play games online illegally.
Many in the online poker world feel that this part of the bill is crazy. Rich Muny, the vice president (player relations) of Poker Players’ Alliance (PPA), told PokerFuse.com: “I think all player penalties are misguided. Player penalties wrongly shift the target of enforcement efforts from hard-to-reach offshore sites to the players.”
Most of the bill, however, is good. Part of it allows Mississippi to sign liquidity sharing pacts with neighboring states. This will increase the size of player pools and make licensed online poker products attractive to a larger number of players. Online poker becomes successful only if there are a number of players at the tables. If the tables are not populated, there is no fun in playing poker. If a player finds nothing but empty tables when he/she logs in, he/she is not likely to log into the online poker room again.