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Another Push for Online Gaming in the US

Another Push for Online Gaming in the US

The passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement ACT (UIGEA) in late 2006 was a serious blow to the fortunes of many Internet casino and poker operators, with most pulling out of the US market entirely as a result. The UIGEA didn't make it illegal for US citizens to play online but instead went after the source, attempting to cut off the flow of money to and from online sites by making it illegal for banks and financial institutions in the US to do business with online gaming sites.

Lobbying efforts by the Poker Players Alliance and the online gaming industry have sparked some attempts in recent years to repeal the UIGEA, with the most serious challenge to the UIGEA coming in late 2010 with the Internet Poker Act of 2010 (which was more commonly called the Reid Bill after sponsor Harry Reid).

The Reid Bill proposed a framework for regulating online poker in the US as well as outlining who could offer online poker (existing US casinos, horse tracks, and slot machine makers) as well as barring current sites that still accept US players such as PokerStars and Full Tilt from legally entering the market for at least two years.

The Reid Bill ultimately expired without being brought to a vote, but it may have paved the way for a very similar bill that was introduced on March 17th, which was H.R. 1174. Sponsored by John Campbell and Barney Frank (who has championed the effort for legal online gambling in the US in the past), H.R. 1174 is very similar to the Reid Bill, and essentially lays out various steps that would legalize and regulate online gaming in the US.

While similar to the Reid Bill, one key difference with H.R. 1174 is that it would allow for both online poker and online casino sites, with just sportsbetting left out in the cold. That's good news for both players and online sites, as the US is still one of the world's largest markets when it comes to online gaming.

The introduction of H.R. 1174 is definitely a good sign for anyone that wants legal online gambling in the US, but it still has a very long road before the possibility of becoming law. The first step is to be approved by various committees (which may be a uphill battle with many conservative, anti-gambling politicians in power at the moment), at which point it could be brought to a vote.

Many bills that get to that stage die a quiet death like the Reid Bill, however, as the majority of politicians are wary of even bringing controversial bills to a vote for fear it might hurt their re-election bids in coming years, so it's still a very long, winding road before the possibility of legal online gambling in the US is more than just a flicker of hope.


20-Mar-2011, 05:54

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