Republican congressman – Joe Barton – has introduced a bill in Congress to regulate Internet poker in America by creating an interstate licensing program. The bill, which has the support of the American Gaming Association and many other member of Congress, would enable selected licensed online poker sites to provide cash games of poker only (Internet sportsbook betting would not be allowed) and would be responsible for collecting taxes from winning players.
The bill also includes the provision that licensed sites must introduce measures to prevent money laundering, restrict access by minors and – as the bill is proposed on a State-by-State basis – block out players from States which opt out of the program. One of the most unusual elements of the bill however, is that players will not allowed to use credit cards to fund their poker accounts and must instead open dedicated e-wallet accounts to prevent gambling debt.
Barton – who is currently in Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker – said “Poker is an all-American game, and it´s a game that requires strategy and skill. Millions of Americans play poker online and although it´s legal to play for money, it´s illegal to process the transactions that allow players to collect their earnings”.
He continued, “We want to have an ironclad system to make sure that those who play for money are playing in an honest, fair system where they can reap the benefits of their winnings. This bill is about having the personal freedom to play a skill-based game you enjoy without fear of breaking the law”
Of course, not everybody is happy about Barton´s Bill. Rob Kohler, of the Austin-based Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission claimed that the bill could open the door for youths to gamble on the Internet and, in a State which recently voted against allowing slot machines and casinos, it is unlikely that Texas legislators would allow the bill to apply in their part of the world.
Live casinos will also not be happy with the introduction of a bill such as this. Harrah´s, who paid Senator Bill “Corrupt” Frist a hell of a load of money to sneak UIGEA onto the end of the Safe Port Act in 2006, have seen their profits increase by almost 25% in the middle of the greatest recession America has ever seen, and the current World Series of Poker in Las Vegas is witnessing record entrants in the first event since “Black Friday”.