Texas Lawmaker Introduces Online Poker Bill

American justice

Rep. Joe Barton introduced new legislation that could potentially legalize, tax and regulate online poker in the United States this weekend.

The bill, which bears some similarities to Rep. Barney Frank’s 2009 online poker bill, would create a regulatory body that would enforce player age requirements, cheating prevention and depositing methods.

Individual states would be able to opt out if they chose and the bill would disallow use of credit cards to deposit funds in online poker accounts.

Each poker site would be required to obtain a license from at least one state and the U.S. Department of Commerce.

"Poker is an all-American game, and it's a game that requires strategy and skill,” said Barton in a press release.

“Millions of Americans play poker online. Although it's legal to play for money, it's illegal to process the transactions that allow players to collect their earnings.” 

The bill had 11 co-sponsors including representatives Barney Frank, Ron Paul and Shelley Berkley when it was introduced to the House on Friday.

It has bi-partisan support with six Democrats and five Republicans on board.

"We want to have an iron-clad system to make sure that those who play for money are playing in an honest, fair system where they can reap the benefits of their winnings."

On April 15 the Department of Justice announced indictments against 11 executives and the founders of Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and UB Poker/Absolute Poker who were allowing U.S. players on their sites in what has since become known as Black Friday.

The Poker Players Alliance has already voiced their support for the new bill. 

“On behalf of the PPA membership and millions of poker players across the country, I thank Congressman Barton for his commitment to protecting Americans’ freedom to play poker on the Internet,” said Former Senator Alfonse D’Amato, chairman of the PPA.

Barton estimated the U.S. government could generate $3 billion annually from legalizing and regulating online poker.

The bill is named the Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection, and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2011.

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