Lawmakers: Act Now or Never to Legalize Online Poker at Federal Level

Written by:
Ace King
Published on:
Lawmakers:  Act Now or Never to Legalize Online Poker at Federal Level

With a handful of states already announcing their intentions to begin offering online poker to residents and the potential for multi-state pacts, Poker Players Alliance (PPA) President John Pappas has sent out an urgent plea to lawmakers in Congress.

“The writing is on the wall. The states are going to do this,” John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance, told Politico this past week. “The first three or four months of the year is going to be pretty important for Congress to act.”

The Department of Justice last month reversed its stance regarding The Wire Act, announcing that poker would no longer be applied.  As such, a number of states have determined they could move forward with enacting legislation that would not intrude on US federal policy.

There are hints that casino lobbyists are working to undercut the state efforts.

David Saleh Rauf of Politico writing for the Las Vegas Sun

All bets are on some key lawmakers — some backed by Las Vegas casinos — trying to do an end-run around the DOJ opinion by pre-empting it with a federal law. That could set up a showdown pitting states vs. the feds.

Supporters of a federal bill say states aren’t equipped to handle the complexities of Internet gambling, and Congress needs to step in.

State officials say that’s hogwash, and the Obama administration has already taken the wind out of the sails of a federal Internet poker bill by clearing the way for states to start setting up their own systems.

If Congress were to step over the DOJ ruling via a federal online gaming law it would cause an uproar in states, Melissa Riahei, a lobbyist for U.S. Digital Gaming and former lawyer for the Illinois Lottery, told Politico. 

“It would take a lot, at this juncture, for Congress to pass a law that would strip the states of their right to offer and regulate Internet gaming as they saw fit.”

- Ace King, Gambling911.com