House committee passes bill to legalize -- and tax -- online casinos

With casinos sprouting like kudzu across the U.S., many states are looking to gaming taxes to help fill the hole poked in their budgets by the recession. Now, the federal government has raised the stakes by taking the first step toward legalizing online gambling.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the House Financial Services Committee has approved a bill that would allow Internet gaming to be offered by companies licensed by the Treasury Department. The companies will be required to operate from U.S. soil.

Another measure, yet to be passed by the House Ways & Means Committee, would tax online gambling, which could bring in as much as $42 billion in revenue over the next decade. The money would be split between the federal (25%) and state governments (75%).