There is growing bipartisan support for a unique bill in the US House of Representatives. Introduced by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), this bill proposes that individual US States be given the option to allow online poker to be played within their borders, and players would then be subject to a form of location verification to ensure that they are playing from a ‘legal’ state. It is an interesting solution to the current landscape for poker’s major sites and the bulk of its US-based player pool, and it is not insignificant that representatives from both sides of the aisle in Washington are pressing to see this happen. Many politicians realize that the demand for online poker will not go away, so controlling the supply (i.e. making it a regulated source of income for governments) is something that needs to happen in short order.
Barton is optimistic that it will happen relatively soon. His hope is to have the bill passed by the end of the year, and that in and of itself would bring great clarity for many poker players, both professional and amateur, who currently have no idea when or if they will be allowed to play again. The bill allows for winnings to be taxed, and for those tax revenues to be split between state and federal governments, so it seems in this case like everyone could truly get want they want. Anti-gaming lobbyists have argued that this will make the game more accessible to minors, but in reality, the opposite may be true. While Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) did acknowledge that no system is perfect in this regard, it is fair to note that other gaming platforms (Horse racing, Casinos, etc.) have managed to implement similar solutions without widespread fear of underage players.
Now it should also be noted that poker players have seen these kind of hopeful overtures before when it comes to regulating the game. Many states have tried and failed to pass similar bills, and federal legislators have proposed bills that seemed favorable, and yet went nowhere on the House or Senate floors. Barton’s bill is by no means a slam dunk, so it would be unrealistic to pop the corks on any celebratory champagne just yet. However, this bill DOES have the bipartisan support of 12 representatives, and it seems that there is at least a recognition that something has to be done given the current rules and (lack of) regulation in the online poker market. Stay tuned to FlopTurnRiver as we give you the latest updates on this bill and other legislation that may give a light at the end of the tunnel to eager poker players.
Good Luck at the Tables!