The arguments for and against legalizing online poker in the United States are well known. Up until now, mainly thanks to the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2006, opponents of online gambling have had the upper hand, so to speak. Those in favor of keeping online poker illegal mainly cite concerns about providing an outlet to problem gamblers to feed their addictions. Many in the brick and mortar casino industry have also expressed concerns about legalizing online poker. They argue that a proliferation of legal online poker sites would siphon away potential revenue from gamblers who would otherwise have patronized their establishments.
This week, however, proponents of legalizing online poker were finally able to celebrate a minor, but important, victory – the House Financial Services Committee approved a bill that would license and regulate online gambling in the United States. HR 2267, otherwise known as Massachussets Representative Barney Frank‘s Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act, enjoyed support from both Republicans and Democrats alike as it passed by a vote of 41-22 with 1 abstention.
The measure was resoundingly lauded by former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, chairman of the the almost million-strong Poker Players Alliance (PPA). D’Amato was quoted as saying that “Congress has a choice – it can license and regulate it to provide government oversight and consumer protections, or our lawmakers can stick their heads in the sand, ignore it, and leave consumers to play on non-U.S. regulated websites in all 50 states.”
Notably, the bill still has a way to go before it becomes law. The next stage in the process will most likely happen in September, when the bill gets voted on by the full House of Representatives. Should the bill pass in the House, it will then get voted on in the Senate. If it succeeds there, then President Obama can either choose to sign bill into law or use his veto power (which is unlikely, as he has been known to enjoy playing poker himself).
We here at Cardplayerlifestyle.com are in favor of legalizing online poker in the United States. The fact of the matter is, millions of Americans already play poker online, despite their officially committing a felony each time they do so. From the poker players’ side, it would be a tremendous relief to have some sort of safety net in the event of something criminal happening – government oversight.
From the government side, with both the national and state governments facing gigantic budget deficits, we find it a shame that they are not tapping into this ready source of revenue by licensing, regulating, and taxing poker play online. We advocate that Congress should focus on how to best utilize additional billions of dollars in potential tax revenues from online poker winnings.
Congressmen had been debating the many facets of the bill, including:
- Whether the operation centers for legalized online poker sites should be majority-based on U.S. soil
- Whether the odds of winning be posted for each game, in order to protect consumers
- Whether loss limits should be instituted
- How to go about age and location verification
- What sort of payment processing methods to allow
- Giving individual states the right to opt out of the bill, should they so choose
- Whether to allow online poker companies who have until now been operating in the U.S. illegally (i.e., PokerStars, FullTilt, etc.) to acquire licenses if the bill is passed
Cardplayer Lifestyle will continue following this story as it develops.