The bipartisan federal online poker bill that US players have been eagerly awaiting was introduced into the House of Representatives on Thursday. The Internet Gambling Regulations, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act is sponsored by Reps. John Campbell (R-CA) and Barney Frank (D-MA). Reportedly, it is a near carbon copy of Frank’s HR2267 that passed the House Financial Services Committee last July but never came up for a vote on the House floor. So will being born on St. Paddy’s will give this version the luck of the Irish?
Proponents of this year’s model appear to be stressing the consumer protections that the bill would offer, including implementing technology to block underage gamblers; requiring operators to set daily/weekly/monthly limits on deposits and losses; and preventing the use of a credit card to gamble online. The bill would also prohibit sports betting; ban violators of federal and state gambling laws from obtaining a license; and require a substantial U.S. presence as a condition of obtaining a license. Guess this bill, unlike Nevada’s, wasn’t written with the help of a PokerStars lobbyist.
The Poker Players Alliance is first out the gate in applauding the bill’s introduction, with PPA Chairman Alfonse D’Amato saying that “instead of a patchwork of state laws … the time is now for Congress to step up and pass federal legislation … that allows the entire country to benefit.” In this, D’Amato is echoing the preferences of casino giants like Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts, who don’t relish the idea of setting up separate operations to handle the intrastate systems being proposed in New Jersey, California, Florida, Nevada, Iowa, etc.
We here at CalvinAyre.com have already weighed in with our opinion on the bill’s chances of getting past Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), the new chair of the Financial Services Committee, but you don’t have to just take our word on it. Back in January, while the memory of Sen. Harry Reid’s failed attempt to gain traction on his own online poker bill was still fresh in Bachus’ mind, a ‘top House GOP staffer’ was quoted as saying that preventing the further spread of online gambling was “a huge priority for Spencer.” The staffer went on to say that if Bachus approved any gambling-related legislation, it would be to make anti-gambling laws tougher. So, by all means, have a drink if you feel like celebrating, but the introduction of this bill probably doesn’t merit popping that champagne cork.