Online Poker Bill Draft in Circulation

September 19, 2012

A draft of the “Representative Joe Barton’s Bill in the House (Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2012),” a bill supporting online gambling legalization including Internet pokier, is now in circulation. Originally proposed by Harry Reid (Nevada) and Jon Kyl (Arizona), the bill suggests the regulation of the online poker industry and the legalization of the online poker, and proposes to toughen up some existing poker legislature.

First of all, this bill will revoke the DoJ’s recent announcement that the Wire Act of 1961 doesn’t apply to online casino and online poker betting. In addition, it recommends amendments to the 2006 UIGEA, the Wire Act of 1961, and the IGBA (Illegal Gambling Business Act) of 1970.

If passed, the bill will require a new government agency of the department of commerce to be called the Office of Online poker Oversight (OOPO) that will oversee all intrastate gambling as well as Indian gambling. This agency will also receive applications for licensure and then grant gambling licenses with the stipulation that any online gambling company that continued to operate within the US post-UIGEA will be denied a license. Fortunately for PokerStars, part of their recent Full Tilt Poker deal with the DoJ forgives them of any post-UIGEA US activity, so that they will be able to apply.

The bill furthermore proposes to prohibit all state-level gambling except online poker and horse racing betting and then suggests up to 10 years in prison plus fines if any other forms of bets are taken.

But even if passed, it would be a while before any legal online poker bets will be placed on US soil since the bill requires a 15-month waiting period before the regulated US poker market could open its doors. It’s been a long time coming, so what’s another 15 months? It’s been a long enough gestation period for the two senators to agree on the bill. US Senator Dean Heller (Nevada) had sent a letter to Reid that stated, “It would be best for the Senate to step back and let the House of Representatives act first on Web Poker.” Alas, we must wait even longer, but at least the ball is still rolling. It’s a good thing online poker players have the patience of Job.


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