Online Gambling Catches the Attention of Congress Again

11 March 2013

Joe Barton

The more states that pass their own online gambling legislation, the more likely a federal bill will come to pass says Joe Barton, a Republican senator from Texas who introduced a failed online poker bill in 2011. “I think the states’ passage gives some incentive to the federal government to act. Whether you’re for or against Internet gambling, you don’t want 50 sets of laws. You want uniformity.”

Uniformity could come at a cost, some say. Opponents of a federal bill say it will usurp states’ power, sap up revenues the states could use, and, as it had with previously submitted legislation, provide Nevada with an unfair advantage in terms of regulatory influence. Another casualty? Availability of several online casino games; current proposed federal legislation only would allow online poker.

Supporters of a federal bill believe a uniform approach to online gambling will further impose safeguards against fraud and problem gambling. It would also prevent states from competing with each other to get access to the best online casino companies and players by compromising safety or revenue structures.

While Barton plans to introduce another online poker bill this spring, many other States are plowing on with their own legislation. Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware are well on their way to offering online poker and casino games as soon as this summer to players within their borders.

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