Prominent gaming tycoon Sheldon Adelson made headlines this past week after outlining his plan to launch a campaign to ban online gaming in the US.
News of the plan immediately led to a major backlash from online gaming and poker supporters, many of whom fear that his extensive connections to the country’s Republican Party could encourage some politicians to push for a ban.
That possibility may not happen easily as one federal Republican politician reiterated his support for the legalisation and regulation of online gaming. Joe Barton, who represents the state of Texas, said the US would benefit from a nationwide law which allowed online gaming to be provided and played in the country.
“New Jersey’s is the latest in a growing list of states to enter the online gambling world and this only reinforces the need for my bill,” he said. “Each law is different, which creates uncertainty with a complex array of regulations that could leave players at risk.”
The bill Barton referred to was the Internet Poker Freedom Act, which would have created a licensing system for online poker companies wishing to operate in the US. The bill was introduced to the US Congress in July but has not progressed much further since then.
Barton’s reiteration of support for nationwide online poker regulation is something that will likely be welcomed by those on the pro-online gaming side of the debate. Online gaming has been getting much momentum behind it since the states of Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey took their own steps to legalise and launch online gaming markets this year.
New Jersey’s decision to regulate online gaming can be viewed as significant given that its current governor, Chris Christie, is also from the Republican Party. That, combined with Barton’s vocal support for federal regulation, may encourage other prominent Republican politicians to support the issue.
If other Republican lawmakers do indeed voice their support for online gaming or at least oppose a total ban on it, it may be a major factor in ensuring that Adelson’s future campaign does not achieve its desired outcome.
That is unlikely to deter Adelson from moving forward with his planned anti-online gaming campaign in 2014.