In a day that featured the tip-off of the 2011 NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, lawmakers on Capitol Hill stole the show. Dominating wins by Pittsburgh and San Diego State and disheartening losses by Louisville and Vanderbilt were overshadowed by Congressmen John Campbell (R-CA) and Barney Frank (D-MA) introducing the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act. The bill’s number was not known at press time.
The news was released around 6:45pm ET on Thursday and the measure strongly resembles HR 2267, which was rubber stamped out of the House Financial Services Committee last July by a 2:1 margin. HR 2267, despite its approval, did not see time on the House floor and a last-ditch attempt to attach an online poker-only version of it from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was also unsuccessful.
In January, the House of Representatives turned over from Democratic to Republican control. In the process, Frank lost his position as Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and now serves as its Ranking Member. Democrats retained control of the Senate.
According to the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), the bill would implement “new technologies to prevent underage play and problem gambler abuse. The bill expands consumer protections not included in the current Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). In addition, the Federal Government and the states will have the authority to prevent consumer fraud and generate revenue through taxes that are currently being paid to competing countries.”
The bill also contains provisions to investigate potential licensees; set deposit and loss limits; and combat cheating, fraud, tax evasion, and money laundering.
In last year’s markup of HR 2267 in the House Financial Services Committee, Campbell emerged as one of the true champions of protecting internet gambling consumers, a trait that appears to carry over into the new bill.
HR 2267 would have created a comprehensive licensing and regulatory framework for the internet gambling industry in the United States. Unlike intrastate bills that, for the most part, only allow players to battle against others in the same state, a nationwide bill would encompass all jurisdictions. The PPA and gaming giants like Caesars Entertainment have pushed feverishly for a Federal solution.
The measure seeing the light of day in the House Financial Services Committee appears to be a difficult task. A source close to Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-AL) was quoted in a recent Washington Times article as saying, “If Mr. Bachus addresses internet gambling in the 112th Congress, such action would focus on examining the effectiveness of existing laws and making them tougher.”
Despite the long road ahead, the PPA was pleased that a bill similar to HR 2267 became a reality once more. PPA Chairman and former three-term Republican Senator Alfonse D’Amato commented in a press release, “I commend Representative Campbell and Ranking Member Frank for their leadership to protect players’ rights while implementing important consumer safeguards. We look forward to supporting this vital legislation as it moves through the legislative process.”
An intrastate internet gambling bill made it to the desk of Governor Chris Christie in New Jersey before it was ultimately vetoed. Across the country last week, Nevada Assembly Majority Whip William Horne introduced AB 258, which would legalize intrastate online poker. The bill, which is purportedly backed by PokerStars, also allows Nevada to enter into agreements with other jurisdictions where internet gambling is not explicitly illegal.
It’s shaping up to be a busy 2011 in the world of poker legislation, so keep checking back with Poker News Daily for the latest developments.