Federal Poker Regulation Getting New Life in US?

Jace Thomas : February 10th, 2011
New legislation in the US for online poker?

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A few reports today are suggesting that a major sea change may be afoot at the Federal level in the US on the issue of online gambling regulation.

As you may recall, the last effort to regulate poker on the Federal level in the US – a proposal put forth by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid during the lame duck session in late 2010 – faltered in the face of opposition from a variety of groups, most notably a cadre of GOP lawmakers headed by Sen Jon Kyl.

While many assumed that the shift in Congressional power toward the GOP brought about by the last election cycle would dampen the chance of similar legislation getting off the ground in 2011, it now seems that the opposite may be the case. According to Gambling Compliance (via Pokerati), Rep. John Campbell (R-CA) is in the process of introducing a House bill that reportedly will share quite a bit of legislative DNA with Barney Frank’s long-discussed but feebly advanced bill to regulate online poker in the US.

There’s no reported timeline for Campell’s bill, but GC and Pokerati both note that the Congressman is set to speak at the upcoming Global iGaming Summit and Expo – as the keynote speaker, no less – as part of a lineup that includes a veritable who’s-who of the poker regulation melodrama. From Pokerati:

In addition to Campbell and likely supporters of his bills such as the PPA, conference speakers will include representatives from the Department of Justice, California Indians, other Native American gaming interests, Caesars Interactive, iMEGA, the Kentucky horse racing industry, various lottery interests, Jeffery Pollack’s Federated Sports+Gaming … and several others who have long found themselves at opposing ends of mutual interests.

Translation: Start petitioning the PPA now if you weren’t happy with the outlines of the Reid Bill. There’s no guarantee that the group will have the ability to make player requests a reality, but it sure seems like the GIGSE is going to serve as the venue where the major stakeholders in the matter are going to meet to hash out the “opposing ends of mutual interests” Pokerati refers to above.

What’s behind the bill? Most likely the increasing momentum of state-based pushes for regulated online gambling. A dozen or so states have bills in various stages of the process, with New Jersey requiring only the signature of the Governor to become the first state to explicitly regulate online poker in the US.

Specific motivation for Campbell may have come in the form of regulation efforts from his home state of California.

What chances would the bill have in the current Congressional climate? It’s insanely difficult to say, but this much is clear: There’s a direct relationship between the momentum of state regulatory efforts and the chance that Congress will act favorably (and rapidly) on the issue of online poker regulation.

Also working in favor of Federal action: One would assume that the AGA and the PPA, along with all other interest groups, have learned their lessons from the semi-debacle that was the Reid Bill and will approach this attempt with far greater organization, discipline and sophistication.

This report comes on the same day that CalvinAyre.com reported that the USFG is basically giving up the ghost in its battle vs offshore gaming operators.

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