Federal Moratorium Rumored for US Online Poker

US PokerCapitol Hill politicians are said to be considering a proposal that would impose a temporary moratorium on the further expansion of online poker in the US.

According to Chris Krafcik from Gambling Compliance, the temporary moratorium would prevent states that have not already regulated online gambling (Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware) from passing legislation that would allow online gambling in their jurisdictions.

The moratorium is rumored to have been proposed in order for a federal study into online gambling to be conducted, and is seen to be a compromise by politicians – Republican politicians in particular – opposed to the eradication of the states´ right proposed in the [geolink href=”https://www.usafriendlypokersites.com/rawa-reintroduced-in-us-senate/”]recently-introduced “Restoration of Americas Wire Act”[/geolink] (RAWA).

The arguments in favor of a moratorium on the further expansion of online poker in the US are that the federal study would enable politicians who are currently sitting on the fence to make an informed decision about whether to support a blanket ban of online poker throughout the US, or leave the individual states to introduce their own legislation.

A Moratorium Would Not Necessarily a Bad Thing

Depending on how long it took for a federal study to be completed, a moratorium would not necessarily be a bad thing. Any right-minded person (bearing in mind we are discussing US politicians) with a full set of facts in front of them would see that a federal ban on Internet gambling would be a bad decision.

Even though the three states that have regulated online poker have returned under-whelming revenues, they have returned revenues. Furthermore, players have been protected when online poker sites have gone down (as witnessed when [geolink href=”https://www.usafriendlypokersites.com/ultimate-pokers-exit-nevada-market-lessons-learned/”]Ultimate Poker closed its doors in Nevada[/geolink]) and safeguards have been introduced to prevent underage gambling and help problem gamblers.

If a moratorium is going to be introduced, this would seem to be a good time to do it. The drive to regulate US online poker seems to be stalling – possibly while states are waiting for the outcome of RAWA – and, although the short-term implications of a moratorium are not good, the long term impact of RAWA being kicked into touch should allow an unfettered expansion of online poker in the US.

Meanwhile, in California …

One state that certainly will not be regulating online poker in the near future is California. Yesterday´s hearing of the Governmental Organization Committee was scheduled to discuss Mike Gatto´s and Reggie Jones-Sawyer´s proposals for online poker – a hearing that earlier in the year was described as pivotal in shaping the outcome of future legislation for online gambling in California.

However, after both Assemblymen pulled their Bills from the hearing, the committee focused on pet shelters and raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21. With little time remaining in the current legislative session, it is unlikely that further hearings will be scheduled to discuss the regulation of online gambling in California, particularly as the primary stakeholders appear to be further apart than ever before.

A recent revenue-sharing “olive branch” offered to the race tracks by Mark Macarro – chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians – has been firmly rejected by representatives of the horseracing industry. One spokesperson said that “if [online gambling regulation] doesn´t happen, we´ll get along” – echoing Macarro´s own words from earlier this year that he would rather see no law than a bad law.

Elsewhere in the US …

Elsewhere in the US, little seems to be happening towards the regulation of online gambling. Although Pennsylvania was looking a sure-fire bet earlier this year to introduce online gambling legislation, the process seems to have got bogged down with futile objections and arguments over the tax rates that should be applied.

Maybe a moratorium would be a good idea. It would allow time for arguments to be resolved and consensus to be found. It would certainly lift the burden of expectation from lawmakers and stakeholders, and allow for constructive discussions to take place behind closed doors – rather than allow (some) politicians to use online poker in the US as a platform to enhance their political careers.

If the rumored federal study finds favorably for Internet gambling, that would ease the passage of legislation in the states that wish to introduce regulate online poker. As more states regulate online poker and interstate compacts are developed, the market for online poker in the US would expand. That would be beneficial to players, stakeholders and tax revenues. Wouldn´t that be a good thing?

Jacqueline Packett
Jacqueline Packett