Rep. Joe Barton Introduces New Bill That Would Regulate Online Poker in the US
There has been a flurry of activity in the United States Congress concerning iGaming with two congressmen introducing two polarizing bills to the Senate and the House of Representatives.
To start things off, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham reintroduced the Restoring America's Wire Act (RAWA) in the US Senate on Wednesday. If the bill is passed, it is believed that it would not only prevent regulated online poker on a federal level, but on a state level as well - including for the three states (Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey) that already regulate online poker.
The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) not only plans to fight this bill, but also questioned its timing given many Congressmen in Graham's home state of South Carolina were set to pay their respects to the tragedy that occurred last weekend.
"Congress made the decision to adjourn early so they could attend services on Friday in Senator Graham's home state," said PPA Executive Director John Pappas. "Unfortunately, Senator Graham has not reset his priorities and picked a very unfortunate time to engage in the internet gaming debate."
Pappas also implied that the timing of the bill was to help with campaign contributions from the Las Vegas Sands CEO billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Graham announced his 2016 presidential candidacy on June 1, and keeping Adelson, a big contributor, happy could go a long way into keeping his campaign well financed.
"As the eyes of the nation are focused on South Carolina following the recent tragic event, I think I speak for most Americans when I express profound disappointment in Senator Graham for choosing this time to advance a bill for the sole benefit of a billionaire political donor," Pappas expressed.
Meanwhile, just one day later, Texas Congressman (Republican) Joe Barton introduced a bill, HR 2888, also known as the Internet Poker Freedom Act, that if passed could regulate online poker throughout the country and allow each state the ability to decide whether or not they wish to allow the activity within its borders.
This isn't the first time Barton has introduced a bill in hopes of regulating online poker. Barton introduced a bill, HR 2366, the Online Poker Act of 2011, in June 2011 cosponsored by 11 Representatives across party lines. Two years later, in July 2013, Congressman Barton tried again with the HR 2666 the Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2013.
Barton and other online poker supporters are hoping the third time is the charm to pass a bill. What's more, Barton's legislation currently has the support from New Jersey Republican Representative Leonard Lance and Tennessee Democrat Representative Steve Cohen.
In a press release from Barton's office, the Representative reaffirmed his stance supporting online poker and explained that there could be controls in place to protect consumers: "the rights of people to play the 'all-American' game, while at the same time protecting them from fraud. HR 2888 also mandates the implementation of technology that prohibits underage players, provides aid for problem gamblers, and preserves state's rights."
Barton elaborated on consumer protections: "My bill is needed now more than ever. It creates one Federal standard that protects the integrity of the game and the financial interests of players – while protecting American consumers from nefarious and predatory overseas gambling operations. Players deserve to have a legal, on-shore system that makes sure everyone is playing in an honest, fair structure. The complex web of state and local regulations now being devised could leave players at risk."
Pappas also proclaimed the PPA's support for a bill on a federal level and explained that States working together will create a more lucrative marketplace.
"Congressman Barton's bill is common sense public policy that would allow qualifying states to pool players together to create a more robust market that will drive consumer satisfaction as well as increase state revenues," said Pappas. "A clear regulatory environment is in the best interest of all consumers, operators, regulators, and law enforcement."
Stay tuned at PokerNews for more developments in the United States online poker landscape.