Fahrenkopf cautious of online bills

Mar 18, 2008 6:00 PM

Staff & Wire Reports | The American Gaming Association (AGA), the lobbying arm of the commercial casino industry in the U.S., recently expressed caution and a conservative approach to efforts to legalize online gambling.

Frank Fahrenkopf, Jr., the chief of the AGA, pointed out the organization actually supports an independent study of Internet gambling, which has actually been embraced by some land-based casino operators.

"In fact, some of our member companies have been vocal about their interest in getting into this sector of the business should it be legalized," Fahrenkopf wrote in a published report.

Fahrenkopf added that legislation such as that introduced by Congressman Barney Frank seeking to legalize online gambling raised jurisdictional concerns regarding the rights of individual states as opposed to federal controls.

"We are concerned that recently introduced Internet gambling legislation represents the first toe in the water toward federalizing the regulation and taxation of gaming, which threatens the long-held rights of individual states," Fahrenkopf said. "We also worry that laws moving too hastily toward legalization could neglect the development of adequate protections to prevent underage gambling online and to safeguard those who may have gambling problems.

"These and other important issues require a reasoned approach, which is why we continue to support the Internet Gambling Study Act, sponsored by Representatives Shelley Berkley and Jon Porter of Nevada and with 68 co-sponsors on Capitol Hill," Fahrenkopf continued. "It’s a more deliberate move forward, but one that is far more responsible and responsive to the complex issues surrounding this topic."

Perhaps fueling the current debate were reports of "unfair play" at two prominent online poker rooms.

Last October, Absolute Poker received complaints from players over "superuser" accounts that could see hole cards of all the players at a table.

In January, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, the poker room’s licensing authority, fined Absolute Poker $500,000 following an investigation into the allegations.

More recently, UltimateBet.com, one of the 10 largest online poker rooms, became the target of an investigation following allegations of "unfair play" stemming from a player’s unusually "high winning statistics."

An investigation by UltimateBet and the Kahnawake Gaming Commission is currently ongoing.