AGA pleads case for U.S. online poker

Dec 3, 2012 6:12 PM

The American Gaming Association (AGA) has launched a last-ditch effort to get Congress to act on an online poker bill that has been drafted by Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, the majority leader of the U.S. Senate.

The new campaign is urging the U.S. Congress to act now to pass legislation to establish federal guidelines for regulating and licensing legal online poker. Without such legislation, said the AGA, the U.S. is poised to see widespread legislation of all types of online gambling and a state-by-state patchwork of regulations that puts gaming patrons, problem gamblers and minors at unnecessary risk.

“Without swift congressional action, the U.S. will soon see the largest expansion of legal gambling in its history,” said AGA President Frank Fahrenkopf, Jr.

“And without any federal guidelines in place, the result will almost certainly be inadequate oversight that creates a world of unnecessary risk and problems for law enforcement and U.S. consumers,” he added.

In its statement on Monday, the AGA noted that last December the Department of Justice released an opinion on the 1961 Federal Wire Act stating it bans only sports betting and not other forms on online wagering. Since that time, individual states across the country have moved quickly to advance various forms of online gambling.

According to the position taken by the AGA, states should have the choice of whether to license and regulate online poker, but without a set of federal minimum standards, gaming patrons, problem gamblers and minors are put at an unnecessary risk.

The AGA said it has seen a draft version of the bill, entitled “The Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2012.”

Senator Reid reportedly has been seeking a way to introduce the bill in the remaining days of the current session of Congress.

The bill has been identified as “only a draft” and does not necessarily represent a final version of legislation that would govern online poker throughout the country.

Fahrenkopf said he believes Congress must establish standards on gambling operations and must also provide “a regulatory structure allowing for Native American casino operators – who will never agree to be regulated by the states – to be involved, and clarify and restore federal law so law enforcement communities have the tools necessary to prosecute illegal online gambling operators.”

Ray Poirier is the longtime executive editor at GamingToday.

Contact Ray at [email protected].

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