By Jonathan Griffin
The governors of Delaware and Nevada made history on Feb. 25, when they signed the nation’s first interstate compact regarding internet casino gaming. The agreement, entitled the “Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement,” initially only authorizes the pooling of Internet poker players, but could one day be expanded to include other games as well.
Online casino gaming is currently legal in four U.S. jurisdictions, and before this agreement, players were required to be physically within the borders of the state to play. This agreement allows Delaware and Nevada poker players to meet and compete against players from the one state while remaining in the other.
The agreement would create the Multi-State Internet Gaming Association (MSIGA) and Multi-State Internet Gaming Board. The MSIGA would be governed by the board, with each member state electing a representative to the board. The board would be in charge of approving new members, games and modifications to the original agreement.
In a press release announcing the agreement, Delaware Governor Jack Markell remarked, “Governor Sandoval and I both share the goal of ensuring that our states’ gaming industries are as competitive as they can be, while ensuring that games are conducted fairly, honestly, and securely. … This agreement represents a crucial step in Delaware’s and Nevada’s efforts to make our online poker offerings more diverse, more competitive, and ultimately more enjoyable. I am grateful for Governor Sandoval's support and leadership in this effort."
The agreement is written so that New Jersey and the U.S. Virgin Islands—the other two jurisdictions that allow online gaming—may also join, if approved by two-thirds of the board. Other jurisdictions would have the option to join as well, provided they approve online gaming within their state. California and Mississippi have introduced legislation this session to enable online gaming within their state, although Mississippi’s bill has already died in committee.
While Delaware and Nevada are the first two states to compact regarding Internet casino gaming play, the use of interstate compacts to pool money in lottery play has been going on since the 1980s. For example, the Multi-State Lottery Association, purveyors of Powerball and Mega Millions lottery games, currently boasts 33 jurisdictions as members.
Jonathan Griffin is a policy specialist in NCSL's Fiscal Affairs Program.