New Online Poker Freedom Bill Introduced

Joe Barton Introduces Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2013As promised, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) introduced a new poker only online gambling bill that includes all 50 states unless they choose to opt out.

The Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2013 also known as HR2666, allows each state and tribal organization a 60-day timeframe to formally exclude themselves from participation. All states are considered included until submitting the paperwork expressing a desire to refrain from the plan.

The bill has numerous clauses that are likely to raise the eyebrows of critics and players alike, one of which is the prohibition of credit cards in making deposits. This seemingly takes a page from the UIGEA statute in 2006, the somewhat vague and controversial law whose intent was to wipe out [geolink href=””]online poker in the U.S.[/geolink]

While Barton’s new bill calls for the freedom to play online poker in America, it restricts some of that freedom by disallowing credit cards as a means for transacting funds. This matter is certain to be the subject of discussion when lawmakers debate the merits of Barton’s proposal. Keep in mind that credit card usage to fund online gaming accounts is widely accepted throughout the rest of the world.

The latest federal bill also includes a 5-year “bad actor” clause that some have described as weak. The provision requires a conviction in a court of law of accepting wagers illegally to be in effect. This seemingly allows alleged UIGEA violators such as PokerStars to participate in the online poker scheme considering that the world’s top site has never been found guilty nor admitted any wrongdoing for operating in the U.S. post-UIGEA.

Barton’s 102-page proposal suggests the creation of an “Office of Internet Poker Oversight” to regulate the game nationwide. However, both tribal and state gaming authorities would be permitted to set their own rates of taxation and to issue licenses.

In excluding online casino games from his latest Internet poker measure, Barton cites the recent ruling handed down in U.S. v. DiCristina that found poker to be predominantly a game of skill. Other games such as roulette, slots and craps determine winners mostly by luck and chance and therefore should not be lumped into the same class as poker. This undoubtedly pleases poker players, who have long known that success at poker over time requires a knowledge and skill that most other gambling endeavors do not.

The creation of jobs and consumer protection would also be realized by the regulation of online poker, Barton reasons. As would increased revenue that is currently going to offshore online poker sites that Americans continue to patronize despite the lack of regulation.

Barton’s Internet Poker Freedom Act joins Rep. Peter King’s online gambling bill, which the New York Republican introduced last month. Federal lawmakers can now choose between enacting either poker-only legislation or elect to permit a wide array of online casino games including poker. However, if past history is any indication, neither bill may progress very far.

In any event, the more such bills get proposed, the greater the likelihood that one day federal legislators will see the benefits of enacting online poker and gambling legislation and act accordingly. Barton firmly believes that his colleagues will eventually warm up to his online poker measure. For the sake of online poker players in America, let’s hope that happens sooner rather than later.

Jacqueline Packett
Jacqueline Packett