Why the Barton poker bill is the best to date

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Jun 26, 2011 Posted in Legal Poker News | No Comments »

Over the past few years we have had a number of pieces of legislation proposed at both the state and federal level, some of which were not too bad, and some of which were not too good. However, the bill laid-out by Rep Joe Barton (R-TX) today is by far the best of the bunch up to this point, and here are the reasons why.

#1 – The bill differentiates between poker and gambling

While in the grand scheme of things this doesn’t seem all that important if online gaming is legalized, in the long-run this could very well be the most important part of the bill. For far too long poker has been lumped in with games of pure luck like roulette, but should the Barton bill pass this will set a very good precedent to separate poker from gambling for any future legislation.

#2 – The bill makes cheating at online poker a crime

This is another huge part of the bill, considering for years online poker players have been cheated by fellow players as well as some less than reputable online poker sites. Now poker players will actually have some recourse to reclaim their funds should they find themselves the victim of a cheating scandal –instead of feeling like a drug-dealer who was paid with counterfeit money.

#3 – the bill allows online poker rooms to be licensed in a single state but offer their services to all 50 states (provided individual states do not opt-out)

With most state level legislation looking at intra-state legislation the Barton bill gives us the best of both worlds: Sites would not have to be licensed in every state –which would be impossible in some locales—and can still provide their services to players across the country.

#4 – The opt-out clause is imperative, and should keep opposition from throwing a full-on hissy-fit

With the opt-out clause the Barton bill basically gives the staunch opponents of gambling in any form an “out”. Instead of fighting tooth and nail against the bill, anti-gaming representatives like Spencer Bacchus (R-AL) can simply say their two-cents and cite the “opt-out” clause to their constituents if they are pressed over their lack of effort in stopping the bill.

These four reasons make the Barton online poker bill by far the best piece of legislation to hit any legislative body to date. Although I am a bit concerned over the phrase “ensure tax collection” in the bill: whether that means sending a W-2 or some other tax statement at the end of the year, or if it means a player’s winnings may face an up-front tax withholding is not clear at this point.

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