Does Online Poker Have Friends?

Senator Harry Reid supports online gambling regulation

Given the amount of opposition that it has faced, it seems like online gambling doesn’t have many allies in Congress. Barney Frank, a Democratic congressman from Massachusetts, has long been seen as the staunchest advocate for the freedom of people to gamble on the Internet. He recently announced that he is going to retire in 2012, leaving people who have long been waiting for Congress to lift the 2006 ban on online gambling wondering if anybody is going to be there to represent them. There are some other legislators who are working to get online gambling legalized for US residents.


Senator Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, is a not too surprising advocate for online gambling. Coming from a state where gambling is a major part of the economy and where it has been established that regulation can make gambling a safe, enjoyable and profitable activity, Reid is one of congresses current champions for online gaming.

Texas Holdem

Congressman Joe Barton, a Republican from Texas, has already prepared a bill to try to make online poker legal, appropriately enough. Online poker is one of the most popular forms of online gambling. Currently, US gamblers have to use casinos located overseas – which they do in great numbers – and the United States gets absolutely no revenue from this activity. Joe Barton’s bill would make online poker legal, subject to federal regulation and, importantly for a federal government that is facing huge deficits, would make online poker subject to federal taxation, according to an article in MySanAntonio.com.

Despite the staunch opposition that online poker and other gambling establishments have faced, it’s interesting that it now has allies across the aisle and across the different houses of Congress. Barton’s legislation would produce a viable framework for online poker from the House of Representatives. Senator Reid would offer something similar in the Senate, making it possible that online poker, at least, would have support from both houses of Congress, even if other forms of online gambling don’t quite have as enthusiastic a base of supporters just yet.

Why Bother?

Opponents of online gambling offer the same arguments that they have always offered against gambling of any sort. They cite the risks of people losing a tremendous amount of money due to gambling addictions and other problems as reasons to keep online poker and other games illegal. Advocates point out that it’s the responsibility of the individual to determine how they best spend their money on entertainment and, additionally, they point out the fact that there is plenty of online gaming available already, the issue is simply that the United States doesn’t get a cut of the action.

For those who want to legalize and regulate online gambling, the issue comes down to one of safety and revenue. Bills like Joe Barton’s would make it possible for the federal government to oversee online poker establishments and offer some regulation. Advocates in the Senate such as Reid could offer similar bills that make it more likely that US gamers would be able to enjoy online poker in the near future.

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Posted by on Jan 10 2012. Filed under Poker Legal News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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