We’re only two months into the 112th Congress and already talk of pro-internet gambling legislation being introduced has begun. This time, it’s from Congressman John Campbell (R-CA), who, according to Gambling Compliance, has teamed with Barney Frank (D-MA) to call for the licensing and regulation of internet gambling in the United States.
In an e-mail sent to its 1.2 million members this week, the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), the poker industry’s main lobbying voice on Capitol Hill, explained that it was seeking to make several changes to a draft bill from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).
Among the tweaks would be reducing or eliminating the infamous “blackout period,” bringing worldwide customers into the fold, increasing the number of states that would automatically opt in, establishing a favorable tax framework for players, and “ensuring that legislation does not unfairly discriminate against companies who currently serve the U.S. market.”
The 15-month so-called “blackout period” was enough of a reason for many online poker players to oppose the bill. However, according to the PPA, it was a necessary evil in order to achieve regulated internet poker: “While this concept is not easy for online players to accept, it is more difficult to accept the notion that the status quo is tenable. Players and operators need clarity. You need reliable deposits and payouts. You need the assurance that your games are fair and that the operators are accountable. The bill would have achieved this.”
Campbell has not yet introduced an internet gambling bill, but John Pappas, Executive Director of the PPA, told Poker News Daily that he’s looking forward to its drop in the House Financial Services Committee: “It is welcomed and exciting news that Congressman Campbell intends to introduce a bill that would license internet poker in the U.S. Last year, Mr. Campbell emerged from the debate in House Financial Services Committee as sensible conservative who understands the benefits of a regulated market rather than the policy of failed prohibition.”
Pappas added, “We are grateful that he is taking a leadership role again this year and we are looking forward to working with him and his Republican and Democrat colleagues.” Pappas and company have been educating the 100+ new members of Congress. Republicans control the House of Representatives, while Democrats retained the majority in the Senate.
Frank’s HR 2267 passed the House Financial Services Committee last July by a 43-22 margin. The bill, dubbed the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act, had 13 amendments debated, including those addressing state lotteries, gamblers behind on child support payments, opt out provisions, the use of credit cards, and sports betting. It was not discussed on the House floor and was deemed “dead” when the last Congressional session ended.
Campbell introduced an amendment during HR 2267’s mark-up process stating that each internet gambling company must have facilities located in the United States, bettors must be 21 years old, age and location verification must exist, the odds of winning each game must be posted, illegal internet gambling sites must be identified, owners must meet certain requirements, and loss limits should be enacted. His amendment was approved by a voice vote during the mark-up.
Reid had purportedly attempted to add his online poker bill to the controversial tax relief measure late last year. However, a deal struck between U.S. President Barack Obama and Senate Republicans over the bill’s contents seemed to eliminate the possibility that online poker would make it in. An omnibus spending bill also appeared to be a vehicle for Reid, although that avenue did not pan out either.
Stay tuned to Poker News Daily for the latest legislative headlines.