Rather than continuing to keep their heads buried in the bureaucratic sand, members of the U.S. Financial Services Committee are backing a bill which would legalize and regulate America’s online poker populace.
Chairman Barney Frank (D – Mass.) has introduced measure HR2267, a proposition which would allow remote gaming sites to accept wagers from US players. Remote betting has long been banned by the federal government, except in the case of horse racing. Since their supposed ban on internet poker in 2006, the government has seen players use several loopholes to remain at the tables. Now, rather than turn a blind eye to their circuitous approach, elected officials are taking a new tact.
If passed, HR2267 would require offshore gaming sites to go through a licensing process. One component, however, would prohibit sites which have formerly operated in violation of US law from obtaining a license. This has caused some legal concerns within the poker community, sparked by fear that sites such as PokerStars and Full Tilt, who have continued to welcome American players despite Congress’ best efforts, would be shut out of the market altogether. PokerStars, for one, has refuted these rumors, openly stating their full support for HR2267.
While many of the most popular sites have gotten away with allowing US gamers to ante up, it may soon become more difficult to skirt the government’s regulations. There are parts of HR2267 which would make it much more difficult for unlicensed companies to complete financial transactions with the players, thus making it nearly impossible for them to buy in or cash out.
The bill also includes several safeguards to catch underage players, as well as provisions to keep undesireable people from operating gaming establishments.
The bottom line is this – if the government can find a way to tax or make money through online poker, it will eventually become officially sanctioned. This appears to be the direction in which the legislature is heading. The current system has proved to be almost wholly ineffective. Finally, it seems as though Washington is ready to admit their mistakes.