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  • House Subcommittee Continues to Debate Online Gaming Legalization

    Monday, November 14th, 2011 by Nadia

Following a positive hearing that took place towards the end of October, a subcommittee will reconvene to discuss the potential legalization and regulation of online gaming and poker.

The Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade have proposed more hearings on the subject of internet gaming. Representative Mary Bono-Mack, chairperson of the Subcommittee, said that there would be hearings to follow up on the discussion. In addition to these hearings, there will also be a meeting of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee (SIA). The SIA committee will discuss how Indian tribes can invest in the online gaming field if it is legalized.

The Hearing Conducted in October

The hearing in October has created a lot of interest in the proposal due to the overall positive message that the legislators put forth. Joe Barton, the representative from Texas, is a Republican who has been consistently in favor of the legislation. He is a member of the subcommittee and one of the leaders of the movement. His proposal was supported by several witnesses.

Among them was Parry Aftab, the chairperson of the Board of Advisors of FairPlayUSA. Another prominent witness was Alfonse D’Amato, chairman of the Poker Players Alliance and former Senator. The witnesses testified to the subcommittee of the House, stating that regulation of online gaming was better than prohibition. D’Amato was the only witness who was extremely pro-poker. Several other witnesses were neutral about the issue while others leant towards regulating online gaming.

Build Up to November’s Hearing

Regarding the next hearing, which is scheduled for November 18th, a spokesperson for Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative, Michael Waxman said that the momentum for legalizing poker has begun to build. This can lead to the Congress making a move on this issue. The witness list of the November hearing is yet to be announced.

Another method for incorporating regulation for online poker is fast reaching its endgame. A ‘super-committee’ which consists of equal numbers of Republican and Democratic Senate members, was formed to find methods for the reduction of deficits in the U.S economy. The committee is scheduled to present and discuss their findings on the 23rd of November.

The poker community has been persistently lobbying for the committee members to include legalization and regulation of online poker in their discussions. One of the reasons cited is that it is to not only protect customers of online poker rooms but to also increase the revenue in the country.

Developments in the Online Gaming Industry

All the enthusiasm surrounding the political action taking place in Washington, D.C, has had an effect on the land-based casino industry as well. Land-based casinos have begun collaborating with already established online gaming sites to form potential online gaming joint ventures. For example, MGM Resorts and Boyd Gaming recently teamed up with Bwin.party Digital Entertainment to create an online gaming venture which will be launched if the U.S Government decides to legalize online poker.

The only uncertain factor appears to be potential laws that might be passed by Indian tribes regarding their casinos. During the first hearing in October, the chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association, Ernest Stevens, was interested in maintaining the Indian tribes’ exclusive rights to be players in internet gaming and being exempt from taxes.




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