Tuesday, November 22, 2011 : In the wake of Friday's Congressional hearing, more perspectives
Mary Bono Mack, chair of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade of the House Energy and Commerce Committee which conducted another hearing on the legalization of internet poker Friday has commented on the interest shown in the topic.
After the hearing, she told reporters her House subcommittee is nowhere close to concluding an examination of the issues related to legalization, making any possible legalization a distant prospect.
And she said she is hearing from a growing number of lawmakers who have views on the subject.
“More and more members are talking to me about the issue,” she said, adding that she has not yet decided whether to hold more hearings, and with the full schedule facing Congress as the year ends, she would have to push any further hearings contemplated into 2012.
Bono Mack said that the first two hearings conducted by her committee had focused on internet poker, but she emphasised that it is not clear whether legalization would eventually focus on poker in isolation, or should also include other forms of online gambling.
The Morongo band of tribal Indians, who are in partnership with Californian card rooms in punting for intrastate legalised poker in California, had submitted written testimony to her committee, Bono Mach revealed. This had emphasised that the tribes were important interested parties in any legalization of online gambling, and should be consulted in any relevant Congressional initiatives.
The tribes were concerned that they should be afforded the same opportunities as other interested parties, the submission had claimed, noting that "so far, we have not seen any federal online gaming bill that puts tribes on equal footing with other potential online poker operators.”
However, the tribes were not universally opposed to the legalization of online poker, with the Morongo asserting: “With the right legalization, Internet poker can be a fantastic opportunity for Indian Country to continue along the road to self-reliance.”
Ken Johnson, a spokesman for Rep. Bono Mack, told media representatives that the Congresswoman has met with Morongo representatives on several occasions, and that she has set up a meeting sometime after Thanksgiving between the tribe and Rep. Joe Barton, the author of an internet poker legalization bill currently in the Congressional system.
One of the witnesses at the hearing, Rep. John Campbell, was also positive about the hearing and the issue, telling reporters that although he agreed that the 2012 elections could disrupt lawmaking activity in Congress, there was still some hope for the federal passage of a legalization bill.
“The regulation of gambling is important for four reasons: one, freedom of choice for Americans; two, tax revenue; three, consumer protection and four, job creation,” he observed, adding that his and other testimony had been well received in the second hearing and there was political interest and therefore momentum in Rep. Joe Barton's proposals