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Texas Congressman Again Wants Federal iPoker Bill

The online gambling debate going on in Congress had an interesting month as a bill to regulate online poker at a federal level was proposed—but not introduced—by Texas Rep. Joe Barton.

The Republican congressman has pushed for such legislation before, but this proposal seems in direct opposition to Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s (R–Utah) Restoration of America’s Wire Act, which is working its way through House committees. That bill, called RAWA, would ban online gambling in the U.S. and is backed by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who is financing a lobbying effort to pass the bill.

Barton said his bill would set up a federal-level regulatory framework that would allow for online poker to be offered in any state. He will introduce the bill to Congress within the next month.

States would have the right to decide whether to join or stay out of the network, Barton said. The bill would also include safeguards and protections for consumers. The bill will only cover online poker and not online slots and casino games.

Barton dismissed concerns cited by RAWA supporters that online poker cannot be regulated to protect underage gamblers and ensure gamblers are not located in states that ban online gambling.

“It’s being done in some states,” Barton said. “It’s being done overseas. This is not a cross-your-fingers-hope-it-works kind of deal. Once it was up and running, people would say, ‘What was all the hullabaloo about?’”

Currently, only Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware allow legal online poker.

RAWA, on the other hand, would ban online poker, online casino games and even online lottery sales.