Online gambling is gaining traction on Capitol Hill, with the head of a House subcommittee signaling that her panel will consider legislation to legalize some forms of gaming on the Internet.
“Lawmakers and industry players at a Tuesday hearing on Internet gambling seemed to be in broad agreement that the time has come to let the nation’s casinos, cardrooms and racetracks operate online as a regulated industry,” according to a report in The Hill.
Earlier this year, the Justice Department moved to block online players in the United States from accessing Full Tilt Poker and other online poker sites. The DOJ accused 11 people of bank fraud and of illegally operating gambling websites and it seized the accounts run by the sites that held money stored by players.
“Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.), chairwoman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Manufacturing subpanel, said the committee would deliberate before acting on any legislation,” The Hill said.
The push for online gambling is driven in part by the fact that Americans gamble online, with billions of dollars going to illegal offshore sites every year. Then, too, gambling has the kind of bipartisan support rare on Capitol Hill these days. A bill backing online poker, introduced by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) has the support of Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.).
Former Sen. Alfonso D’Amato (R-N.Y.), chairman of the Poker Players Alliance, said the Obama administration’s crackdown on the industry has only driven the game underground. “The status quo is badly broken and benefits no one,” D’Amato said, according to The Hill. “Internet poker has not gone away and it’s hard to envision a scenario where it will.”