In breaking news from Capitol Hill, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) will introduce legislation to license and regulate online poker in the United States on Thursday, according to Dow Jones Newswires.
During National Poker Week, which occurred from July 19th to 25th, it was revealed that Menendez would likely drop legislation during the festivities or the following week. Then, Poker News Daily learned that a bill similar to last Congressional session’s S 3616 would likely be introduced this week. Poker Players Alliance (PPA) Executive Director John Pappas stated during a working dinner to open National Poker Week, “Pushing poker will be an immediate lift and will be easier than [legalizing] other things.” He also reminded over 30 of the PPA’s State Directors, a handful of poker pros, and media in attendance, “Poker has always been played in people’s homes. We are the Poker Players Alliance. We aren’t the Roulette Alliance. We love the Menendez bill because it focuses on our core beliefs.”
The PPA had a draft of the bill in mid-July. Menendez’s S 3616 was introduced last September and dubbed the Internet Skill Game Licensing and Control Act. The bill’s definitions specifically included online poker, explicitly legalizing the game in the United States: “The term ‘Internet skill game’ means an Internet-based game that uses simulated cards, dice, or tiles in which success is predominantly determined by the skill of the players, including poker, bridge, and mahjong.” The bill called for the legalization of skill games not backed by the house, meaning that the action was primarily player versus player. Online poker rooms like PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker raise revenue by taking a percent of each pot or tournament buy-in, dubbed the “juice” or “rake.”
In order to apply for a license to operate a skill game online and solicit customers from the United States, complete financial information was required. Also required were an outline of an organization’s corporate structure and the “names of all persons directly or indirectly interested in the business of the applicant and the nature of such interest.” Background checks of individuals and directors associated with each licensee would have been conducted and betting on sports was specifically prohibited. S 3616 vanished from the record after the 110th Congress adjourned.
According to the PPA, the legislation to be introduced by Menendez on Thursday will be similar to S 3616. The Dow Jones report notes, “It would establish a regulatory framework that would allow online poker companies to register in the U.S.” A 10% tax on deposits would be added, 5% to State Governments and 5% to the Federal Government. During the last Congressional session, Congressman Robert Wexler introduced a similar measure in HR 2610, the Skill Game Protection Act, which exempted poker and other skill games from existing internet gambling legislation.
At the beginning of May, Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) introduced HR 2266, which would delay industry compliance with the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) by one year to December 1st, 2010. In addition, the Massachusetts lawmaker unveiled HR 2267, which establishes a comprehensive licensing and regulatory framework for the internet gambling industry in the United States. HR 2267 currently boasts 54 co-sponsors, while HR 2266 has 35.
We’ll have full details on Menendez’s new Senate bill as soon as it’s released right here on Poker News Daily.