The attention of the poker world has been focused on Las Vegas for the past two months, but that doesn’t mean the attempts to regulate online poker throughout the rest of the United States have stopped. This week, The Fight tries to get the reader up to speed on what’s been happening behind the scenes over the summer:
This year’s current best hope for federal online poker legislation is Rep. Joe Barton’s (R-TX) HR 2366, which proposes a system of licensing and regulating online poker overseen by the Department of Commerce, but regulated on a state-by-state basis. States could opt out of online gaming or issue state gaming licenses as they saw fit. The bill would also overturn 2006’s Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.
The list of co-sponsors of the bill includes a number of longtime supporters of online gambling legislation like Barney Frank, John Campbell, Shelley Berkeley and Ron Paul.
There are currently no plans for a hearing in a House Subcommittee and, according to gaming reporter Chris Krafcik, Barton is not planning to move forward on the bill unless Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid decides to act on the legislation.
In the meantime, Reid and Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) wrote a letter to US Attorney General Eric Holder July 14th asking for clarification from the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the legality of Internet gambling, especially intrastate gambling. The letter mentions several states are looking to start some form of intrastate gambling (through lotteries, online poker, etc.) and have received the DOJ’s consent to proceed. The letter concludes that if the DOJ is reconsidering their position, they consult Congress before finalizing their new stance.
New Jersey state legislator Raymond Lesniak, author of a bill that would have regulated intrastate online gambling in the state before Governor Chris Christie vetoed the bill, sent his own letter to Holder disputing the Senators claims.
A new “grassroots” organization has joined the Poker Players Alliance in their efforts to get poker legislation passed. With initial funding from major casino groups Caesars Entertainment and MGM/Mirage, FairPlayUSA launched their website earlier this month. Their Board of Advisors features 2004 WSOP Main Event winner Greg Raymer and former Pennsylvania governor and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge as well as a wide-ranging group of poker players, law enforcement officials, gaming executives and other concerned citizens wanting licensed and regulated online poker.
A PPA statement supports FairPlayUSA’s efforts, but it remains to be seen if this new group will have any influence on passing online poker legislation.
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