Federal Poker Bill still far from certain
The original bill proposed by Nevada senators is as yet still a long way from being approved. The Bill which seeks to legalize online Poker has been struggling to get approval for almost 2 years.
There have been a number of obstacles in the bills passage not the least of which were the charges laid at some major poker operators that they were running a Ponzi scheme as well as being involved in money laundering. These charges are steadily being laid to rest. One of the major operators, Full Tilt Poker was acquired by PokerStars and has paid out over $700 in Player claims as well as Fines by the government.
In addition the Indian tribes also continue to oppose the bill as they believe it will negatively affect their business interests. Industry rumors allege that Indian tribes would like to draft their own online poker and gambling legislation and would discuss that desire at the hearing back in July. There are approximately 400 Indian gaming establishments in the US. These casinos are operated by approximately 220 federally-recognized tribes and offer Class I, Class II and Class III gaming. Gaming is divided into 3 classes. Class I and Class II are traditional Indian gaming such as bingo halls, poker halls, and lotteries, and requires no license. Class III gambling has high jackpots and high-stake games such as casinos, jai alai, and racetracks, and various states fear that organized crime is infiltrating the Class III gaming on their reservations. The revenues generated in these establishments is close to $18.5 billion
A federal Internet poker bill is being authored by Senators Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Harry Reid (D-NV), but is believed to be lacking support from Republican senators. Reid recently said that he and Kyl have “worked very hard” in drafting legislation, but that positive feedback from GOP senators “hasn’t been forthcoming yet.” A bill actually written and proposed by tribal gaming interests would be hard-pressed to ever pass, but may go a long way in clarifying what the native tribes would like to see by way of regulations.
Last week it was reported that the new online gambling bill is being circulated including clauses that will reinforce current poker laws already in force. In Nevada several gaming commissions are already issuing gaming licences although the holders of such licenses may have to wait for the final passage of the bill into federal law. And it certainly appears that some states, such as Delaware, will reject the law entirely.
American Tribes believe the legislation could damage tribal business interests as they will only be able to offer online poker if the state they reside in. accepts the new law. In addition they reckon that the law only benefits a few major names in Nevada. Some states fear the new bill will override current gambling laws and limit gambling activities currently available online within the state.
So given the current impasse it certainly appears as if the passage of the federal law is going to take some time yet. And would be online poker players are waiting eagerly.