Expansion has been rather slow with the current state-by-state U.S. online poker model. But Texas Representative Joe Barton is looking to speed this process up by introducing new legislation that would legalize iPoker on a federal level. That said, let’s recap the main points of Barton’s bill and discuss its interesting timing.
Very similar to Barton’s 2013 poker legislation
This certainly isn’t the first time that the Republican Rep. has pushed the online poker agenda. Barton also released a bill (HR 2666) in 2013 that never came to a vote. However, times have changed since then, with Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada now allowing online gaming. So Barton is essentially re-submitting HR 2666 in hopes that Congress will give it more consideration this time around. “It’s poker only,” he explained. “It doesn’t apply to the lottery or any other games of chance.”
States have the right to decide
Assuming Barton’s iPoker legislation passes, it won’t immediately be forced upon all 50 states. Instead, each state will have the right to decide whether or not they want online poker. Of course, the majority of states will probably accept their right to offer iPoker games. But there might also be exceptions like Utah, which is largely against gambling.
Safeguards for children and problem gamblers
Two arguments that are commonly used by anti-online gaming enthusiasts involve children and problem gamblers having easy access to the activity. Those who’ve paid attention to the matter know that this is really not the case. But in order to satisfy politicians, it’s important that any legislation stress the safeguards for children. And Barton’s bill does this by discussing how only debit-card deposits will be accepted (no credit cards), and problem gamblers will have limits imposed on their accounts.
Any chance of passing?
Obviously having iPoker legalized on a federal level would be huge to anybody who loves the game. However, it may still be too early for Capital Hill to spend any serious time on the issue. We’ve seen state online-gaming bills quickly fizzle out in Mississippi and Washington state already this year, and the same seems likely on a bigger scale for Congress. But any chance at getting online poker regulated by the U.S. government is better than no chance. And if the bill gets any discussion at all, it could at least raise awareness among state politicians.