Last week, word broke around the industry that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was planning to introduce legislation to legalize and regulate online poker in the United States. The bill, dubbed the Internet Poker Act of 2010, remains in draft form, but plenty of organizations have weighed in on its merits. Among them was the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), which spoke in favor of the bill on Monday.
The PPA’s Executive Director, John Pappas, commented in a press release that the process of pushing pro-online poker legislation through Congress has been a long road. Pappas admitted, “As news stories circulate about a potential bill that would license and regulate online poker, it is important to remember that the Poker Players Alliance has been actively pursuing such legislation for more than five years. If nothing else, this shows that lawmakers are acknowledging what the PPA has been saying all along – that Americans want to play the great game of poker in any venue they choose and they deserve to be afforded the basic consumer protections that regulation can provide.”
The bill has received a considerable amount of mainstream attention, as media outlets from the New York Times to Associated Press have printed articles on Reid’s bill. The Internet Poker Act bars existing sites that service the U.S. market from obtaining a license for two years, potentially shutting out Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars, and others. This feature of the bill has drawn the ire of many in the online poker community, while land-based casinos like Harrah’s and MGM have come out in favor of Reid’s proposal.
Pappas, however, charged that securing a legislative framework was critical: “The status quo is not tenable and legislation is needed to clarify and correct current laws and provide a regulated U.S. marketplace for players. Failing a federal legislative solution, the future of internet poker remains unpredictable. However, a regulated market that offers competition, consumer protections, and clarity will undoubtedly provide the greatest benefit for players and long-term stability to the internet poker experience.”
Recent funds seizures in states like Maryland and Washington have complicated the process of depositing and withdrawing from major online poker sites. Also coming under fire in recent weeks has been eWalletXpress. Under a regulated scheme, these problems could, in theory, be mended.
According to the Wall Street Journal, land-based casino companies have been nearly diehard in their support of Reid, who was reelected in 2010 to another six-year term. The Journal explained, “Gambling interests and casino executives gave the Senator more than $700,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, ranking fifth among all industry contributors. His biggest single benefactor: MGM Resorts International, whose executives and political action committee gave Reid more than $190,000 in combined campaign donations, according to the same data. Harrah’s Entertainment ranked fourth, with more than $83,000 in campaign contributions.”
The news publication The Hill revealed that the “lame duck” Congressional session will likely end on Friday, December 17th. It added that this week’s focus would be on healthcare for first responders on September 11th and “the DREAM Act, which provides U.S. citizenship to children of illegal immigrants.” Online poker legislation could potentially be added as a “pay-for” to a separate bill.
We’ll keep you posted right here on Poker News Daily.