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AGA: Passage of Federal Online Poker Bill Unlikely in 2012

Speaking prior to the opening of the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas, American Gaming Association (AGA) president and CEO Frank Fahrenkopf told the gathering that approval of online poker legislation during the lame-duck session of Congress following the November election probably won’t happen.

Fahrenkopf further stated that Republican control of the Senate is not a grave concern even though the GOP has taken an anti-online gambling stance in its party platform. The AGA plans to emphasize that the restrictions of a poker-only online gambling bill will benefit those opposed to the proliferation of online gambling and who fear that the Internet will become a giant online casino, VegasInc has reported.

Although online poker legislation does not look promising for this year, Fahrenkopf is convinced that it will happen, perhaps in 2013. “It’s no longer a matter of if online gambling will be legalized in the U.S., but when, where and how,” the AGA CEO said.

Senators Harry Reid and Jon Kyl have come up with a proposal for federal online poker legislation, but the bill will likely be pushed aside in favor of more pressing matters after the election, Fahrenkopf stated. The bill strengthens both the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) and Wire Act, while carving out an exemption for poker, lottery sales and off-track horse wagering over the Internet.

The Global Gaming Expo is being held at the Venetian, whose parent company is the Las Vegas Sands–owned by Sheldon Adelson. A multi-billionaire and one of the world’s most wealthy entrepreneurs, Adelson is a huge contributor to the Republican party and has gone on record as strongly opposing online gambling. But Fahrenkopf told Expo attendees that he wasn’t overly concerned with lack of support from Adelson.

“Sheldon has been transparent and straightforward with me and the other members of the industry,” Fahrenkopf said. “This is his own personal view. It is not the position of Las Vegas Sands. Most of his executives are very much in the same area as most of the executives of the other companies are. He’s entitled to his view. I’ve seen no evidence of him being out there working against us or anything of that nature.”

Some type of online gambling is legal in 85 countries worldwide, with about 33 million punters wagering roughly $34.9 billion annually–including millions bet unlawfully from the U.S., Fahrenkopf said. He further added that three states–Oregon, Maryland and Rhode Island–have gambling expansion referendums on November ballots. Internationally, new casinos are planned throughout Asia, with Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Philippines seeking to draw more revenue from tourists via brick and mortar casinos.

The Global Gaming Exposition is in its 12th year and more than 100 presentations and panels have been scheduled, with Fahrenkopf kicking things off. The four-day event will attract over 400 companies with exhibits on display, 65 international exhibitors, and is anticipating that more than 26,000 individuals from the gaming industry will attend. It is closed to the public.



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Charles Rettmuller

Charles has been an avid poker player for a number of years, both live and online. He holds a degree in journalism and previously worked as a reporter for a Chicago-based newspaper. Charles joined the PokerUpdate team in early 2012 and writes daily news articles for the site.