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Online Gambling Hearing Prompts No Urgency by Subcommittee

Despite being deemed a success by online poker proponents, last week’s House subcommittee hearing on Internet gambling has not prompted federal lawmakers to act with any great urgency on the matter.

In somewhat of a let-down to Internet poker players throughout the U.S. who had high hopes after representatives from both the Poker Players Alliance and American Gaming Association laid out a strong and convincing need for federal regulation during the hearing, House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade chairman Rep. Lee Terry (R-Nebraska) told Gaming Today that he and his colleagues don’t plan on moving swiftly.

“There’s really nothing on the agenda next for this,” Terry said. “We are going to see how things are evolving in Nevada and New Jersey and other states.”

That is precisely what U.S. online poker players didn’t want to hear. The longer it takes for federal legislators to act on the issue, the less likely that any proposals will advance. If more states eventually join Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey, the odds increase that a federal scheme will never be realized.

While a state-by-state patchwork of regulation is better than none at all, it will not be as favorable as a federal plan that would include all states less those that choose to opt out. The proposal on the table submitted by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) that was a centerpiece of the December 10 hearing aims to do exactly that, but U.S. lawmakers remain nonplussed.

“I don’t think a case was really made,” Terry said, with regard to the need for immediate action. “When it comes to setting parameters for Internet gambling where issues of technology and privacy come into play, I don’t know how you can do that.”

The states know how to do it and three have already done so. A handful more may come on board next year, with Pennsylvania, Illinois and Mississippi believed to be the most serious candidates. California could be included in that bunch, but rumors abound that Golden State lawmakers prefer not to partner with other regulated states.

In the meantime, American players are left no option but to play at sites that are unregulated and located overseas. That continues to be a poor option for some who desire consumer protection that a regulated environment would bring. Black Friday’s fallout is still etched in the the minds of many U.S. players.

There are some decent online poker options for U.S. players currently, if decent were to be defined as poker rooms that process cashouts both speedily and efficiently. Americas Cardroom and Bovada Poker currently fit the bill in that regard. However, it certainly doesn’t compare to playing at PokerStars where the guaranteed tournament and cash game selections leave nothing to be desired.

But as is evident from April of 2011, unregulated sites operating in the U.S. can vanish at any moment, leaving players out of luck and with virtually nowhere to turn. Sad to say, we are getting used to that, as we have been turning toward federal lawmakers to effectuate online poker legislation for years. But those pleas have fallen on deaf ears.



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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.