Online poker hearing scheduled for next week

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Oct 22, 2011 Posted in Legal Poker News | No Comments »

The legislation introduced by the latest darling of poker advocacy groups, Joe Barton, will get its first committee hearing next week, as the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, a sub-panel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, will discuss HR 2366 on Tuesday.

Barton is the latest member of congress to jump aboard the online poker bandwagon, although this bill differs from previous attempts in that it separates online poker from other forms of gambling –so you still wouldn’t be able to play roulette online. Barton told the Hill newspaper: “I am pleased that Chairman (Mary) Bono-Mack is holding a hearing on the important issue of Internet gaming… It’s a first step to showing why the current law is a lose/lose for everyone – the public, the taxpayer, the banking industry, and the people who want to play poker openly and honestly on the Internet. I look forward to an open exchange of ideas.”

A number of high-profile people have been called to speak before the sub-committee including Poker players Alliance and former Senator from New York Alphonse D’Amato.

Barton, who firmly identifies with the Tea Party seems to be a strange bedfellow for online poker advocates, but with their two most vocal advocates, Barney Frank (D-MA) and John Campbell (R-CA) part of the House Financial Services Committee (which is chaired by the anti-gambling Spencer Bacchus [R-AL] who declared he would hold NO hearings on online poker or gambling) having little chance of even convening a hearing, the PPA and other advocacy have turned to Joe Barton, who despite his record of anti-online poker voting, is a self-described avid poker player.

It remains to be seen if Barton is the potential White Knight online poker has been hoping for, if he is simply an opportunistic politician who sees fighting for online poker as an easy way to line his campaign coffers, without going too far against his conservative principles.

As is typically the case there is still a long way to go before any bill is even brought to the house floor for a vote, and considering we are in a presidential election year, where voters turn out in full force, many conservative members of congress are likely loathe to vote on any bill that would increase gambling in any way.

For those unfamiliar with the way Congress works here is a quick look at the process:

* First the issue is taken up in a committee, with amendments and debates added

* If it passes a committee vote the next step would be on the floor House of Representatives for debate, amendments, and possibly a full vote (but only if the Speaker of the House decides to bring the matter up) or it could be sent back to committee (basically killing the bill)

* If passed by the House it would then move to the Senate where more debates and amendments would be added, and again the bill would have to pass a full vote

* If the bill was altered in any way in the Senate it would then go back to the House for another round of debate, amendments, and another vote (this process continues until BOTH houses of Congress pass the exact same bill)

* The final step is the President’s desk where it can be signed into law or vetoed

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