Federal Poker Bill May Still Be Breathing

21 February 2013

A comprehensive federal bill that legalizes online poker for any state wishing to include it might still have some strength left in it, at least that is what Frank Fahrenkopf believes. Fahrenkopf is the current president and CEO of the American Gaming Association, a lobbying agency that supports the gaming entertainment industry.

At the age of 73, Fahrenkopf is scheduled to step down from his position on June 30th of this year after nearly 20 years at the helm. A native of Reno and a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, Fahrenkopf has always supported a consistent federal regulatory bill.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if a new bill was introduced this session,” he told gaming executives at the 2013 iGaming North America Conference. Not being surprised is one thing, however, getting a conservative Republican from a state other than Nevada and New Jersey (or any other gambling-revenue state) is another. As it stands, the only bill close to making it through the house was an online-poker-only bill, and even then it barely got off the ground.

Online real-money gambling is a touchy subject for many politicians and even more voters. Folks on the far right tend to avoid discussing federally regulated gambling as it violates some religious views on one hand and allows superfluous government involvement on the other. Those on the right avoid taking a stance on gambling because by supporting a federally regulated measure, they must also encourage more spending (or profit-sharing) on projects that help save problem gamblers from themselves.

In the absence of a federal bill, states will form their own legislation regarding online gambling and the revenue it can produce. States may also wish to form compacts with other states in order to increase their player base and the chances that online gambling will succeed. Congress, however, may block such measures as it has the power to control state partnerships.

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