Analyst Weighs in on New Online Poker Bill, Expresses Optimism

    July 8, 2011

A new Internet gaming bill was recently introduced to the U.S. House that focuses specifically on poker. The Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection, and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2011, or H.R.2366, would regulate online poker and would create an interstate licensing program for Internet poker websites.

States, however, would still be able to “opt out if they don’t want to participate,” according to the press release. It also stated, “The lawmakers believe this is an issue of personal freedom and that the government shouldn’t stop people from playing a game of skill.”

Do you agree with the lawmakers and believe that this bill is based on “personal freedom”? We’d love to know.

It’s no secret that the online poker industry has had a troubled past, which was evidenced by the recent “Black Friday” event when the FBI shut down three popular online poker sites for alleged bank fraud. Because of this event and other controversies around online poker, Representative Barton (R-TX) introduced the bill in hopes of providing clarity to the industry.

According to Eli Lehrer, the Vice President of The Heartland Institute, the proposed bill makes “common sense.” He said, “It contains some common sense protections against people being defrauded, which right now in the current netherworld of online gambling is all too common and way to easy.”

On the topic of the taxes the bill would impose, Lehrer pointed out, “At a time when we need more revenue and there’s an enormous resistance to raising taxes of any sort, it cannot be bad idea.”

Incidentally, the Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act was also introduced recently, which focuses on all Internet gambling and not just poker. Lehrer believes that it is actually a “better idea” because it has more freedom and creates more revenue. It does not, however, have bipartisan support, which is not the case with Barton’s bill.

Lehrer said that bipartisan support is especially noteworthy given the current divisions in Congress.

“Anything significant that gets bipartisan support is a big deal,” he added.

As for the passing of this bill, Lehrer told us the chances are “possible” but were “by no means guaranteed.”

In, what may be a blow against the bill, the American Gaming Association is not in support of the bill. It is reportedly working on its own version of legislation for online poker.

Would you like to see this bill pass?