Although two bills to legalize online gaming or poker have been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, there have been precious few congressional hearings to hear the facts of the issues involved. Last month, the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection held a hearing on the subject, with the title “The Expansion of Internet Gambling: Assessing Consumer Protection Concerns.”
Oddly, however, online gaming was a subtext to a litany of dangers enabled by the illegal online casinos and poker rooms active today.
One witness suggested that terrorists are aware of the money-laundering aspects of illegal online gaming.
“There are indications that terrorists in Afghanistan have been using online gaming to launder their funds,” said Chuck Canterbury, national director of the Fraternal Order of Police. “There is no legal or regulatory framework for law enforcement to shut down this activity.”
Nevada Senator Dean Heller brought Canterbury before the committee to testify why the existing “free for all” operations of illegal online gaming cannot continue.
“We need to be making sure we can stop children and perhaps problem gamblers from getting caught up in this web,” Heller said.
Subcommittee Chairwoman Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) says many people would be reluctant to reveal such information.
“It creates a real friction between those people who want privacy in this age of big data,” McCaskill said. “I don’t know how they’re all going to feel about being able to play online poker if they’re not willing to take their picture every time they walk in.”
The American Gaming Association was appreciative of the Senate focus on the illegal online gaming dangers.
“Internet poker is a reality that is here to stay,” said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association. “The question is whether Congress will ensure minimum regulatory standards of online poker, protect consumers, exclude bad actors from the American market and provide Native American tribes with an appropriate regulatory framework.”