2012 US online poker legislation forecast

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

Online poker players might be a little disheartened heading into 2012, considering that after three separate hearings in Congress (granted they all occurred in subcommittees) there has been nigh a whisper of actual online poker legislation in the United States. With Congress about to go home for Christmas, 2011 and Online Poker Legislation is simply not going to happen –which means that the process will once again start from square-one in 2012. Making matters even worse is the election-year problem online poker legislation is likely to face in 2012.

As has been the case over the past few years, we had a few bills looking to legalize and regulate online poker introduced in 2011, with the most promising being the online poker-only bill introduced by Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX) who will likely be the new “go-to guy” when it comes to online poker in Congress after the retirement announcement of Barney Frank (D-MA). Frank has definitely been the biggest champion of legalizing online poker in Congress over the past few years, and his advocacy (as well as witty quips) will be sorely missed by poker advocates.

The real issue in 2012 will of course be the election year, with very few members of Congress wanting to put their name on any controversial piece of legislation (which legalizing online gambling certainly falls under). In fact, I’d be shocked if members of Congress were willing to back any bill not explicitly seen as a slam dunk by the legislature as well as their constituents.

Even without Frank it seems there are plenty of Congressmen and Senators willing to back an online poker bill, but the problem seems to be finding a person to be at the front of the issue like Barney Frank was willing to do –the jury is still out on Joe Barton’s ‘commitment’ to online poker legislation.

Only one online gaming bill has ever made it out of the committee process (a bill introduced in 2009 that would have legalized and regulated all manner of online gaming not just poker) and it did so in a surprising lopsided vote of 41-22. Even so, the bill never even made it to the floor of the House of Representatives for an up-or-down vote. Later in 2009 Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) tried to muscle through an online gaming bill during the lame-duck session, but quickly received enough blowback to drop the cause.

So, here we are with 2012 fast approaching and zero chance of any online poker legislation in 2011, and a bleak outlook for anyone in the US to play poker online in 2012. Have our chances for online poker legislation really been pushed back to 2013??? With another year to two years added to that date to get a regulatory framework in place? Not to sound like a pessimist, but it would seem a solid bet on an arrival date for online poker in the US would be somewhere in 2016! And who knows what will have changed by that time.

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