Online Gambling on Agenda of Senate Subcommittee

Posted on July 11th, 2013 by Todd Wilkins

Online Gambling on Agenda of Senate SubcommitteeConsumer protection regarding online poker and gambling will take center stage at a Senate subcommittee hearing scheduled for next week.

Federal lawmakers have not made online gaming a priority in recent months, so the fact that legislators are convening to discuss the topic comes as great news to online poker players throughout the U.S. At 10:00 am ET on Wednesday, July 17, the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance will hear testimony and debate the pros and cons of online gambling.

The Expansion of Internet Gambling: Assessing Consumer Protection Concerns is the hearing’s topic. It is not known whether recent comments by billlionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson that criticized the proliferation of online gambling had any part in spurring lawmakers to take a look at Internet gaming expansion. However, it is certainly not out of the realm of possibilities.

The subcommittee hosting the hearing is a lower tier of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. The full agenda of the meeting has not yet been announced, nor has the list of witnesses scheduled to testify. That information will be passed on as soon as revealed by subcommittee members.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held three hearings on Internet gambling in a span of about eight months that began in late 2011. None have been held since July of 2012, so its high time that federal legislators put the issue of online gambling on the front burner. “Regulation of Tribal Gaming: From Brick & Mortar to the Internet,” was the last topic studied.

Five months prior to that, the committee debate centered on the DoJ ruling in December 2011 that allowed individual states to enact online gaming regulations of their own as long as sports betting was excluded. The meeting was entitled “versight Hearing on the U.S. Department of Justice Opinion on Internet Gaming: What’s at Stake for Tribes. The same committee heard testimony three months earlier that tackled “The Future of Internet Gaming,” again with a focus on how tribes may be affected.

Next week’s hearing may also be influenced by Rep. Peter King (R-NY) and his introduction last month of the Internet Gambling Regulation, Enforcement, and Consumer Protection Act of 2013. Unlike previous attempts on the federal level that proposed online poker but left out Internet casino games, King hopes to regulate the whole ball of wax. Most poker players would rather see poker not lumped in with casino gaming, considering that poker requires a predominance of skill rather than luck.

Another online gambling proposal by Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) is expected to be formally introduced in coming weeks. That measure will likely be poker-only, which may be easier to find favor among legislators, as opposed to such a broad gaming bill as that which King hopes to pass. Barton has tried repeatedly to push online poker bills in previous legislative sessions and his tenacity has certainly been greater than his success.

While progress in online gaming legislation has been lacking on the federal level, it is slowly moving forward on the state level. Many in the online poker industry continue to believe that a federal format would be much more efficient than the current plan that has seen Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware enact regulations so far. At least the upcoming Senate subcommittee hearing is a step in the right direction.

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