Despite the recent heavy handed attempts by the American Department of Justice to criminalise anyone who has even thought about playing online poker in the United States, a number of influential people have not given up the fight to allow those who want to, to play play this game of skill online against other people for real money. Even President Obama has been known to profess his liking for the game.
Two different attempts are now under way to try and rectify this situation are both from the Republican and the Democrat camps, suggesting that the original legislation hastily pushed through in 2006 to criminalise payment processing was not universally supported. But we knew that anyway.
Joe Barton, a Texas Republican and senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee is the first to formulate a bill which would legalise online poker and also create a regulatory agency to oversee the industry. Barton’s bill would only legalise online poker and no other forms of online gambling. Online sites would be allowed to start up only in states where gambling is already licensed and that would mean the state regulator would oversee the sites at a local level.
The other effort under way is a combined one from Democrats Jim McDermott and Barney Frank. There are two separate bills here, one to tax legalised gaming (from McDermott) and one to legislate for and regulate online gaming (from Frank). All three recognise the need for legalisation and regulation of some sort and are quite aware of the enormous tax revenues lost overseas. A virtually useless prohibition law just adds to the mess, ensuring that normally law abiding citizens who just want a game of poker in the comfort of their own home become criminals.
McDermott echoed the point, saying:
“Legalizing, regulating and taxing Internet gambling just makes sense,” McDermott said. “Right now, the U.S. loses billion of dollars to off-shore gambling and illegal gambling rings because of an unrealistic and virtually unenforceable policy.”
“The current prohibition of online gambling has failed and made countless American vulnerable to fraud, identity theft and money laundering,” said McDermott, who first introduced his legislation in 2009.
Watch this space over the coming weeks for any updates.