Republican Joe Barton Sponsors Legislation to Legalize Online Poker

Ever since the passage of anti online gambling legislation in the US Congressman Barney Frank has waged a tireless fight to get legislation passed that would tax and regulate all online gaming. Frank has made no bones about his distaste for current laws which he believes violate the rights of American citizens. Frank, a Democrat, has reached across the aisle to Republican congressmen John Campbell to co sponsor comprehensive online gambling legislation that would cover all sectors of the industry including online bingo.

While Frank and Campbell tried to get a hearing on their legislation the Department of Justice took the heavy handed action of shutting down four major poker sites, issuing 11 indictments and froze bank accounts in several countries. The domains were also seized and defendants charges with fraud and money laundering. The actions sent shock waves through the online gaming industry and at least one internet bingo network decided to call it quits.

Recent news reports indicate that new legislation is being drafted by Texas Republican representative Joe Barton. Barton is sponsoring the piece of legislation in cooperation with the Poker Player’s Alliance. Some in the gaming industry speculate that there is some discussion underway whether poker is a skill based game or a game of chance. Most experts agree that poker is skill based. Barton, the chairman emeritus of the United States Energy and Commerce Committee, plans to introduce the bill in his committee so that he will have some control over the bill’s introduction.

Recently the Las Vegas Sun reported that Republican representative John Campbell and Democrat representative Barney Frank who have co sponsored a similar more comprehensive bill will both support Barton’s bill. Barton’s bill only covers poker and frank said he would rather see a bill that includes other online gaming sectors such as internet bingo and said that there is “an extraordinary restriction on people’s freedom right now” and that he would take something over nothing. John Campbell, the co sponsor of frank’s bill said that depending on which of the two bills moved forward in congress they would endorse whichever bill was viable. Campbell stated “This is not a Republican leadership initiative, but they’re aware of it. It’s a sensitive issue, but an issue where there’s a majority consensus in the House and Senate to make this change.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has made no commitment on Barton’s bill and has the support of the American Gaming Association. Most industry observers say that federal legislation will take time and that reform is inevitable.