Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) remained true to his word by introducing a new federal online poker bill that aims for nationwide participation, but allows states and tribes to opt out of the proposed plan.
Entitled the “Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2013,” the measure weighs in at a heavy 102 pages despite being lightweight in its clause against bad actors. Only those actually convicted of accepting unlawful wagers are excluded, which would seemingly allow the post-UIGEA violators to participate. A 5-year period has been set as punishment against bad actors, although no one would currently be categorized as guilty of such an offence.
Barton proposes that an “Office of Internet Poker Oversight” be created to oversee regulations. But tribes and states will have the leeway to fix tax rates and dole out licenses according to their own suitablity standards.
One aspect of the new proposal that players may question or dislike is that credit cards will not be allowed in making deposits. Online gaming sites the world over routinely allow for such financial transactions and disallowing the use in the U.S. is a bit troubling. Ultimate Poker in Nevada, the only currently operating regulated online poker site in the U.S., does allow Visa and Mastercard deposits at this time.
Also known as HR2666, Barton cites consumer protection and additional employment opportunities as benefits of his legislation. Not to mention the added revenue that states who choose to opt in to the plan will realize. Online poker in the U.S. is an industry likely to generate revenue in the billions if done correctly. Since the advent of online gambling roughly a dozen years ago, that money has been flowing to offshore sites.
Barton’s measure joins the “Internet Gambling Regulation, Enforcement, and Consumer Protection Act of 2013” that was proposed last month by Rep. Peter King (R-NY). While the bill of Barton restricts legislation to poker-only, King has proposed the regulation of a full slate of online poker and casino games. Federal legislators now have two bills to consider, with many critics fearing that neither one will gain the needed support.
Barton is convinced that his online poker legislative efforts will one day be rewarded with approval from his colleagues. To date, however, his tenacity has been far greater than his success in swaying votes among his fellow lawmakers.