King and Barton to Introduce Online Poker Bills to Congress

June 1, 2013
King and Barton to Introduce Online Poker Bills to Congress

Reuters reported earlier this afternoon that two online poker bills will be introduced by members of Congress in an attempt to provide one set of unifying online poker regulations and give brick and mortar casinos a larger market share in online gaming.

Per the American Gaming Association, federal online poker statutes could result in revenue of $10 Billion by 2017. At present, only Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware have legalized online poker but Nevada is presently the only state hosting online games.

Reuters spoke with congressional aides and confirmed two bills are expected on the horizon with one coming from Representatives Peter King (R-NY) and Joe Barton (D-TX). These bills are expected to have similar language as past bills on the matter, including a opt-out clause for states. Utah has already passed a resolution opting-out of any future federal legislation.

Online poker legalization at the state level as seen slow growth since the DOJ confirmed that the Wire Act only applies to sports betting. In addition, most states do not feel online poker at the state level has much chance of success. Dan D’Arrigo, CFO of MGM Resorts International, told Reuters that the company believes that the state is too small a market for online poker to be viable.

Nevada recently passed a resolution that would give it the ability to enter into partnerships with other states that legalize online poker, but with only three states having passed regulations and uncertainty when other states will follow, it could be some time before any state partnerships could prove financially beneficial.

As with past bills, expect opposition from state lotteries and some state legislatures as they look to prevent Congress from usurping their authorities in iGaming matters. Other issues that must be addressed and successfully resolved include inclusion of tribal governments in online gaming legislation, providing adequate player protections, and addressing any social costs of legalizing online poker nationwide.

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