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Federal legalisation of US online poker is increasingly unlikely

Pappas believes a state-by-state legalisation process will prevail.
Writing in an op-ed for Yogonet this week, John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance opines that a federal legalisation of US online poker is increasingly unlikely, and a state-by-state process is probably the way forward.
“Fractured by ongoing partisanship and the typical stagnation of an election year, the United States Congress today can be best defined by its inaction rather than action,” Pappas writes. “As such, the prospects for federal legislation to license and regulate online poker in the near future are slim, drawing attention instead to the states, where progress is more promising.”
Pappas points to the successful legalization initiatives in Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey, and notes that many states are now seriously considering the prospect. Among these he names Pennsylvania and California, along with Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts and Hawaii, which have shown signs of interest in regulating online gambling.
“Compared to years past, this is certainly a positive trend, but much more needs to be done to ensure all players across the country have access to a fair environment to play the game of poker,” Pappas observes before going on to argue the merits of US regulated online poker from consumer protection and tax perspectives, and advances in modern technology that make problem and underage gambling, and criminal involvement a substantially lower threat.
He uses the regulated regimes of Europe as a practical example of what can be achieved, and points to the positive and effective impact that regulation has had in the three US states that have so far embraced legalisation.
Pappas also examines the current opposition to legalisation, which mainly centres around the deep pockets of Las Vegas Sands multi-billionaire owner Sheldon Adelson, observing:
“Mr. Adelson has contributed a great deal of money, time and effort into thwarting efforts to pass federal and state legislation to license and regulate online poker. He has even gone as far as to facilitate the introduction of federal legislation which would reverse an interpretation by the Department of Justice which allows states to make their own decisions on legislation.
“Though he claims his efforts are motivated by societal concerns, his own casino offers online and mobile gambling. Until recently, the Venetian website, owned by Mr. Adelson, boasted, “Is there anything you can’t do on a smartphone or tablet nowadays? Mobile Casino Gaming is available to you on property during your stay, and you can even play from your room!” According to his logic, mobile gambling is only safe in a room he can charge you for.
“Wherever his true motives lie, Mr. Adelson’s argument continues to be whittled away by the fact that prohibition will not protect U.S. citizens. Internet gaming regulations in other countries, and those proposed here in the U.S., are significantly more restrictive than regulations on the very brick-and-mortar casinos that have contributed to his considerable wealth.”
Pappas is passionate in defending the rights of individual US states to make their own laws on internet and mobile gambling, and argues against federal politicians “trampling” on these rights and denying consumers meaningful protection at the state level.
He quotes from the letter sent to Congress by the National Conference of State Legislatures earlier this year, emphasising that state lawmakers largely oppose federal legislation aimed at reversing their right to pass legislation to license and regulate online gambling.
In the letter, the Conference notes, “States have proven that they are effective regulators of the gambling industry and the proponents of this legislation fail to make a case that we have been negligent in our responsibilities to the industry and consumers. This attempt to enact a wholesale prohibition of online gambling with the Restoration of America’s Wire Act is merely a solution seeking a problem.”
Pappas concludes by commenting that misguided [federal] attempts to turn back the clock on regulated online poker will be in vain.

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