Currently there are several Online Poker bills pending before the United States Congress. There is the bill introduced by Rep. Peter King (R-NY), which is limited to legalizing online poker and contains provisions allowing greater participation from state lotteries. Another pending bill, sponsored by Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), also only authorizes online poker, and not other casino games. Apart from this limitation, Rep. Barton’s bill is otherwise almost identical to the bill Senators Harry Reid (D-NV) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) introduced last year, which failed to gain any traction in the United States Senate.
New Online Poker Bill
The newest federal online bill was introduced last week by Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) and is meant to coincide and be adopted alongside Rep. King’s bill. In essence, Rep. McDermott’s bill, entitled the Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act of 2013, proposes that online poker operators pay a mandatory tax of 12 cents on every dollar deposited with their sites by users. The tax money collected would be shared by the federal government and the state in which the user is playing online poker. Rep. McDermott’s new online poker bill is not the only one in the pipeline, and it is rumored that Senator Reid is drafting a new version of his failed online poker bill, which may be introduced shortly.
The State Race
The resurgence of interest in online poker legislation is not surprising. Earlier this year, Nevada and Delaware began accepting online poker wagers and New Jersey is poised to do the same on November 26th, 2013. These events may be providing federal lawmakers with a renewed sense of urgency to pass some form of federal legislation, rather than let the states create a patchwork of regulation. It remains to be seen how any prospective federal legislation will interact with state laws that have legalized online poker in Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey.
The legislative process on the federal level, and the potential impact on applicable state laws, will be worth keeping an eye on for gambling attorneys and those interested in Internet poker law in general.