Joe Barton's new attempt to legalize internet poker due soon. According to the Washington DC political newspaper The Hill, the latest attempt to federally legalise and regulate online poker in the United States could be launched as early as next week by Texas Republican Representative Joe Barton.
Barton's staff have reportedly been working overtime to ready the bill, which will propose the appointment of a federal regulatory body.
A spokesman for Barton confirmed this week that the bill is in the final stages of drafting and is expected to be released in the near future. The bill would legalize online poker alone; other forms of Internet gambling and betting are not included in its provisions.
Congressmen Frank and Campbell, who are in the process of finalizing their own and wider internet gambling legalization bill, recently confirmed that they would back Barton's attempt, and the influential Nevada senator Harry Reid has hinted that he would be interested as well, having failed in his attempt last year.
Under the Barton proposals, online poker sites would have to be registered in a state where gambling is already allowed, such as Nevada or New Jersey. Operators would be required to register with the gaming commissions in those states, which would be in charge of ensuring they behave in a fair, professional and ethical manner.
Users in all 50 states would be allowed to play on the sites for real money, but states would be given the option to opt out of the law and ban online poker in an intrastate state ruling if they so choose. Whether that decision would be made by the state legislatures or a referendum has yet to be determined.
Barton's spokesman said the bill would be launched through the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which appears more open to legalizing online poker than the House Financial Services Committee under Republican chairman and confirmed anti-gambling politician Spencer Bachus of Alabama.
Congressman Barney Frank introduced a similar bill in that committee last year but it did not make significant progress despite attracting over 70 co-sponsors.
The spokesman said Barton's office is reaching out to members on both sides of the aisle and to the Senate in hopes of getting bipartisan support for legislation this session. But the strongest support could come from the estimated 10 million Americans that have indicated a personal desire to play poker online.
The governor of Nevada recently signed into state law new legislation empowering the Nevada Gaming Commission to prepare online gambling regulations conditional on the passing of federally legalized and regulated online poker. Be sure to check out the Top online Poker Room Allowing Us Players.