Beginning of the End or a new Start?
Added: July 15, 2013
A new bill was recently introduced into the United States Congress to bring back online poker. This bill is awkwardly known as HR 2666 Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2013. Some are already calling this bill the Poker Freedom Act.
This effort to bring back online poker was initiated by Texas Republican Congressman Joe Barton. You may recall that Rep. Burton tried unsuccessfully back in 2011 with bill HR 2366, known affectionately at the time as the Online Poker Act. This time around, the bill or at least some form of the bill might have a better chance at success. There is a growing consensus that online casinos and online poker are here to stay.
In this bill, the language sets up the case quite clearly. HR 2666 begins by acknowledging that there is a vast uncertainty about the law. In the United States although there are clear laws that address sports betting, there is an enormous amount of uncertainty concerning laws with respect to internet or online poker. Even more compelling, the bill cites as a reference a federal case as background material. Specifically, in the case of DiCristina versus the United States, the court ruled that poker is a game of skill and this skill is in fact. the most relevant factor in determining the actual outcome of the game.
The language in this bill goes on to outline some of the benefits to bringing back online poker. For one, thing, there is the opportunity to create more jobs. At the same time, the bill goes on to speculate on the additional revenue available for local, State, Federal and even Tribal governments.
This bill is unique in one respect. HR2666 is all about federal legislation, yet at the same time, this legislation would essentially hand over this power back to the states. That is, it would be up to each individual state whether or not they select to participate or not. Specifically, the bill says consumers would benefit by Congress acknowledging the interstate nature of the Internet while at the same time acknowledging the choices of individual States as well as Indian tribes.
Specifics of this bill include what one might expect in any sort of federal gambling legislation. If enacted as written, the bill would require that online poker service providers obtain a license for their online poker operations. Moreover, the bill would require that these license holders ensure that:
» Minors are prevented from playing online poker
» Systems be setup to help identify and treat problem gamblers
» Systems be setup and monitored to prevent players from states that choose not to participate
» Systems be installed to prevent money laundering
Although the ink is barely dry on this bill, there is a lot of hopeful buzz out there in the online gambling world. Time will tell if HR2666 gets enacted into law this year.