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New Online Poker Bill to be Introduced by Controversial Senator

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Oct/01/2008
Robert Menendez

New Jersey Democratic Senator Robert Menendez intends to introduce a new bill that would regulate online poker and other "games of skill".

The Senate bill's introduction follows a 30-16 vote on Sept. 16 by the House Financial Services Committee that would require federal agencies to define unlawful Internet gambling before completing regulations to enforce a current ban on the activity.

In October 2006, Congress passed into law the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act, which holds banking institutions responsible for preventing US customers from playing poker online. Those same financial institutions claim it is impossible to monitor such transactions especially when there was a carve out for some forms of online gambling such as horse racing.

"This action by Senator Menendez is yet another example that prohibitions on Internet gambling, and specifically poker, will not work to protect consumers," former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, R-N.Y., who is the chairman of the Poker Players Alliance, said in a statement.

The Menendez bill is similar to legislation introduced in June 2007 in the House by Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla.

But unlike House Financial Services Committee Barney Frank Chairperson, who helped push his own bill through a House vote last month, it may be tougher for Menendez to round up support from constituents.

Senator Menendez has come under some fire of late for seemingly single-handedly blocking the reauthorization of E-Verify, which has been used successfully to identify dangerous criminal aliens before they can enter the US. E-Verify also helps employers vet potential hires to ensure that new employees are legal aliens or U.S. citizens. The system verifies 93 percent of applicants within five seconds. Overall, it is 99.5 percent accurate.

Menendez is insisting that the Senate agree to include two controversial provisions which would "recapture" visas that went un-issued between 1992 and 2007, adding an estimated 570,000 extra visas to the immigration system.

An editorial appearing in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review highlights the sentiment felt by many as it relates to Menendez's efforts.

But if this immigration godsend is not reauthorized, it will be terminated on Nov. 29. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., has put it on hold in a Senate committee.

It's unconscionable.

If Congress fails to reauthorize E-Verify, and thereby fails to enforce immigration law, the public should consider lawmakers' inaction criminal.

CNN's popular anchor and host of that news network's third most popular show, Lou Dobbs Tonight, has echoed a similar sentiment.

Dan Stein of the Washington Post had this to say in regard to Menendez' controversial stance related to E-Verify:

As millions of American workers face an uncertain economic future, one of the few government protections for their jobs is about to disappear. Unless the Senate reauthorizes the E-Verify system that allows employers to avoid hiring illegal aliens by electronically checking workers' Social Security numbers, the program will expire in November. Reauthorization is hardly controversial. The House has already reauthorized a five-year extension of E-Verify by a lopsided 407-2 vote; it is more than 99 percent accurate; and several states now require businesses to verify workers' immigration status.

Only one obstacle stands between American workers and continued protection against losing their jobs to illegal aliens: Sen, Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat. Reauthorization of E-Verify by the Senate is being held hostage by Mr. Menendez, who is demanding the inclusion of an amendment to "recapture" unused immigration visas dating back to 1992.

Mr. Menendez may not be able to see Wall Street from his front porch in New Jersey, but he can probably see many of the investment bankers and hedge-fund managers who created the biggest economic disaster this country has seen since the Great Depression (and no doubt he sees many of them at his campaign fundraisers). These and other captains of American business continue to press for more workers, even as unemployment rises, and the elimination of protections for American workers such as E-Verify.

E-Verify was temporarily renewed for another six months this week, remaining at the mercy of the next administration and this still has constituents in the Senate angry.

While Senator Menendez' bill would potentially open the US market up to the online poker sector resulting in thousands of new jobs courtesy of a multi-billion dollar industry, some in the sector are left pondering whether they might be better served not to have someone like Menendez in their corner on this issue, at least not right now.

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Christopher Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher

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