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Congress May Play Hardball In State By State Regulations

American Gaming Association President Frank Fahrenkopf told a Nevada gaming committee that states wishing to form online poker compacts may run into trouble from federal lawmakers who have the authority to undermine interstate agreements.

Fahrenkopf expressed his concerns over a state by state patchwork of online gambling regulations while giving a presentation on the state of the U.S. gaming industry before the Nevada Gaming Policy Committee. He said that Congress has the power to approve or disapprove any deals made between states, but in the past has not gotten involved in such matters.

“But I can assure you that with a controversial issue like this, some politicians would want to interfere,” Fahrenkopf said.

The AGA still is pushing for a federal framework of Internet gambling legislation, but with federal lawmakers sitting on their hands on the issue, it appears that individual states will continue to pursue regulations on their own with Nevada leading the way. The Silver State is thus far the only state to have enacted legislation to allow online poker to be played within its borders.

No other states are even close to Nevada in passing online gambling regulations. New Jersey is seemingly on hold with Gov. Chris Christie often flip-flopping on the issue. The sponsor of California’s online poker bill removed it from being voted on by a Senate committee due to infighting among the state’s gambling interests and the anticipated lack of votes needed for passage. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is not wholeheartedly in favor of gambling expansion in the Prairie State. The Delaware House recently approved a gambling expansion bill and the issue will now move to a debate before the Senate. But online poker is not in the forefront of that legislation.

That leaves plenty of time for federal lawmakers to work out an online gambling scheme on a federal level that would trump the need for states to do so on their own. But Congress appears to be remaining stagnant on the issue.

“I’ve never seen this level of dysfunction in our Congress before,” Fahrenkopf said. The AGA president knows well the ineptitude of federal legislators from his former role as Chairman of the Republican National Committee.



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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.