Representative Jon Porter, with the help of fellow Nevada Congressmen Jim Gibbons and Shelley Berkley as original co-sponsors, has introduced the Internet Gambling Study Commission Act in Congress which will establish a commission to examine the impact of online gambling.
This legislation is being introduced as an alternative to the current bills making their way through Congress that would effectively ban online gambling.
"With technology constantly evolving, we need a much better understanding of online gambling before Congress makes any rash decisions about its future," Porter said. "By establishing a bipartisan, independent study commission, we'll make sure we have all of the facts laid out on the table before considering any possible next steps."
The legislation will specifically set up a bipartisan Internet Gambling Study Commission consisting of nine appointed members who'll be responsible for conducting an extensive, comprehensive study of Internet gambling, including the existing legal framework that governs activities and transactions. Within 18 months, that commission will submit their findings and recommendations to the President and Congress for administrative or legislative action.
The new proposal follows closely on the heals of a survey of online gamblers that showed 70% of respondents starting gambling online in the past two years, and the American Gaming Association's (AGA) call for an investigation by Congress into online gambling.
"The American people clearly want to gamble on the Internet," said Frank Fahrenkopf of the AGA. "The question is, what's the best way to protect them? Is it better to have them offshore or would it be better to license, regulate and tax them here? That's what a commission should look at."
The AGA also released a paper as part of their 10th Anniversary Research Series May 23 discussing the implications of Internet gambling in which the author, Washington D.C. based attorney David Stewart, supports the creation of a Congressional commission to study the issue.
He wrote, "A study commission approach could develop an effective, comprehensive legislative approach that would address the complex and often conflicting policies now in place, as well as the general confusion about the legal issues surrounding Internet gambling."
The House Judiciary Committee has already given their approval for H.R. 4777, the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, and H.R. 4411, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which together would ban online gambling. Those bills move on to be considered by the full House of Representatives and still have to make their way through the Senate and be signed by the President before becoming law.
Several organization have come out against the bill including the Poker Players Alliance, Poker Freedom Advocacy Network, and the National Poker Association. Also, some states, such as Nevada, are interested in legalizing, regulating, and taxing online gambling rather than banning it.