A new federal proposal that would prohibit online poker and gambling thoughout the U.S. is apparently being readied by South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.
The measure aims to amend the 1961 Wire Act to outlaw Internet gambling. That act was reclarified in 2011 by the DoJ, who ruled that only sports betting over the Internet was off-limits for individual states. That set in motion the online poker and gambling legislation that is now in place in Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey, and is being considered in a number of other states.
Graham, a Republican with a considerable amount of influence, told Gambling Compliance that he strongly opposes online gambling. Like a number of politicians who don’t understand that poker is a game of skill separate from house-banked casino games such as roulette and blackjack, Graham intends to include Internet poker in his banishment proposal.
A draft of Graham’s bill has not been released and news of his intentions comes just one week after Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) announced his plan to introduce legislation soon that would also outlaw online gambling, but allow a carve-out for online poker. Heller’s effort will apparently be proposed jointly with Senator Harry Reid (D-NV).
Should the measure by Heller and Reid be introduced, Graham has stated that he would firmly oppose such a bill. But prohibiting poker does not stop Americans from playing. It merely sends them to unregulated poker sites.
A number of U.S.-friendly sites such as Bovada and Americas Cardroom are attracting a significant player base due to timely payment processing. While those unregulated sites are the only option for some U.S. players and currently a favorable option, consumer protections are virtually non-existent. While Graham and those who oppose online poker believe they are taking that stance in order to protect the public, they are actually doing their citizens a disservice by failing to protect those who believe in the right and freedom to play.
Earlier this week, Nevada and Delaware formed the first interstate online poker partnership agreement that will allow both states to share the same player pool. It hasn’t been outright stated as such, but reading between the lines one can certainly speculate that the progression of state-by-state online gambling legislation that includes partnerships may be making anti-gambling lawmakers such as Graham a bit nervous.
The country’s largest state, California, saw two online poker bills introduced just before the deadline in order to be debated during this legislative session. Should one of those bills progress to the point of approval, it may make a federal endeavor such as the one reportedly in the works by Graham that much more difficult to pass among federal lawmakers.
It appears that online poker and gambling – either for or against – is now being taken a bit more seriously at the federal level. Much of that is likely due to the recent formation of the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling that is backed by Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson. It’s unclear which direction regulated Internet poker will go at this time. What is clear is that a fight has begun between pro and anti-online gaming concerns.