Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), joined by original co-sponsors Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV), Rep. John Campbell (R-CA), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY), Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), Rep. Peter King (R-NY), Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA), introduced a bill Friday that will regulate internet poker. The root of the bill is based in consumer protection. It will create an interstate licensing program for internet poker sites, but at the same time allow states to opt out if they don't want to participate. At this moment, millions of law-abiding citizens are still playing poker in jurisdictions all over the world, many in places with weak or less than desirable regulatory environments that provide no certainty of legitimacy or safety. This bill will protect them.
The lawmakers believe this is an issue of personal freedom and that the government shouldn't stop people from playing a game of skill.
"Poker is an all-American game, and it's a game that requires strategy and skill. Millions of Americans play poker online. Although it's legal to play for money, it's illegal to process the transactions that allow players to collect their earnings," said Rep. Barton. "We want to have an iron-clad system to make sure that those who play for money are playing in an honest, fair system where they can reap the benefits of their winnings. To put it simply, this bill is about having the personal freedom to play a skill-based game you enjoy without fear of breaking the law. "
Congressman Barton has received bipartisan support for his effort to protect consumers who play poker online.
"This legislation simply says that Americans should be able to play poker legally over the Internet from the privacy of their own homes," said Congresswoman Berkley. "As we have shown in Nevada, well regulated gaming protects players, operators and the integrity of the game, while also ensuring those who cannot legally bet are denied the ability to participate."
Rep. Campbell of California stated, "The discussion surrounding the legalization of online gaming in this country needs to move forward. At this moment, we have otherwise law-abiding American citizens committing a crime simply by playing poker online. I don't happen to gamble myself, but freedom is not about legislating what I like to do and making illegal what I don't. Freedom is about allowing responsible Americans do what they happen to enjoy. Clearly, Americans want to gamble on the internet, and policymakers need to provide both the freedom to do so and ensure appropriate consumer protections are in place. Regulating online gaming and making certain that these sites are operating legally in America will also create economic growth through generated tax revenue and the possibility of attracting foreign players to U.S. sites."
"Online poker has been growing for years without the appropriate security measures necessary to protect consumers," said Congressman Cohen. "Poker players should have the comfort of knowing they are playing poker on legal gaming sites that are fair, safe and credible. Our bill would create a licensing regime so online poker players are assured they are placing bets with reputable gaming groups that are legal and won't take advantage of them."