A bill that would breathe new life into online poker is almost ready; perhap in a week’s time. Rep Joe Barton, R-Texas, is looking to present a piece of legislation that would legalize the betting in online poker and would also have to create a new federal regulatory body to watch over the online poker sites.
Rep. Barton has argued that he personally plays poker offline and believes that it is a game of skill, unlike gambling. He also notes that playing online poker is not illegal, its the processing the money for betting that the government has a problem with; but there are those states where gambling is legal. Under this impetus, the legislator will be introducing his bill geared towards those gambling states.
If he gets his way, online poker sites will need to be registered in the states where gambling is not frowned upon; like Nevada for example. Gaming commissions in the Nevada state would oversee registering these sites and keep them from cheating customers. In turn, the federal regulatory body would keep those gaming commissions in check. Anyone in the United States will be at first be able to play for money, but states can decide to ban Internet gambling if they really have a problem with the new poker freedoms.
Since April, the three big poker sites have been dormant. PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absoulte Poker were seized by the US Government for illegal gambling under the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. The price for processing payments for online poker range from five years in prison to 30 years and a $1 million fine.
The Poker Players Alliance said at the time, “we are shocked at the action taken by the U.S. Department of Justice today against online poker companies and will continue to fight for Americans’ right to participate in the game they enjoy.”