Friday July 12,2013 : BARTON TAKES ANOTHER RUN AT U.S. FEDERAL ONLINE POKER LEGALISATION
But the new bill bans the use of credit cards, and creates a monopoly for land-based casinos.
Texas Representative Joe Barton's much anticipated second attempt at launching a federal online poker-only legalization bill became a reality Thursday with the introduction of HR 2666, the Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2013, in Congress.
Barton says online poker is a game of skill, and that there should be certainty in what is legal and what is illegal in an increasingly grey area. He acknowledges and supports the potential benefits of tax revenues for "federal, state, and tribal governments” and a boost to employment in the United States.
HR 2666 also appears to condone interstate compacts between like-minded states, including a clause which states: “United States consumers would benefit from a program of Internet poker regulation which recognizes the interstate nature of the Internet, but nevertheless preserves the prerogatives of States and federally recognized Indian tribes.”
The 100-plus pages long bill has the usual fair gaming, consumer protection and money laundering provisions, and permits individual states to opt out should they wish to do so.
Importantly, it also includes a "bad actor" provision, calling for the exclusion during the first five years of regulation and licensing of any person or company that “…has been convicted of accepting bets or wagers from any other person through an Internet poker facility in felony violation of federal or state law.”
This provision extends to those who buy the assets of any such bad actor.
Barton proposes that the federal provisions be supervised by an "office of Internet poker oversight" which will be positioned within the US Department of Commerce.
Punitive measures enshrined in the bill include million dollar fines for unlicensed operators who accept online poker action from US players.
There is also a requirement that the UIGEA be strengthened to halt other forms of internet (casino) gambling – an interesting confrontation with the federal solution introduced to Congress last (June) month by Rep. Peter King, which seeks to legalise all online gambling
The full bill can be previewed here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/153205779/HR-2666-The-Poker-Freedom-Act
The Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative action group immediately gave the Barton bill qualified support, noting that whilst it appeared to create the potential for a land operator monopoly and illogically banned the use of credit cards, it did provide a uniform set of standards to control online poker.
Spokesman Michael Waxman said: "Given federal regulation provides the only way to create uniform standards to control Internet gambling activity and protect every American, Congress should be encouraged to seize, not cede regulation of the industry. Moreover, the Internet, online commerce, and online gambling are by nature interstate activities, demanding the attention of federal, not state, regulators."
Waxman attacked the concept of selective and discriminatory online gambling regulation, noting that: "There's no logic behind the argument that it should be permissible for Americans to play poker and bet on horses online, when they can't play bingo online as well."
Morgan Stanley predicts that by 2020, online gambling in the U.S. will have the potential to produce the same amount of revenue as Las Vegas and Atlantic City markets combined at $9.3 billion.
This summer could also see the introduction of another a third online gambling bill….the much rumoured third attempt by Nevada Sen. Harry Reid to federally legalise online poker on Nevada's terms. His previous efforts failed to gain traction due to a lack of energy, time constraints and political in-fighting.