Online poker gambling creeping toward legalization?
By Sonja Ryst
Congress is thinking about making it legal to play online gambling games like poker.
The House Financial Services Committee approved a bill on Wednesday under which Internet gambling operators could get licenses authorizing them to take bets from people in the U.S. If it becomes a law, it would overturn a federal ban on the payments of Americans who gamble online.
However, the bill would continue to prohibit betting on sports, which accounts for millions of dollars in online gambling activity.
The Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act passed out of the committee by a 41-to-22 vote. Now the committee can send the bill to the House for consideration, where it could be considered in September at the earliest.
A companion bill would attach a revenue piece to the proposal, but no vote has been taken on that bill.
If the bill passes, gambling operators would have to follow a number of rules to gain a license to do business online. They couldn't take bets made with credit cards, for example.
Instead, consumers could use other payment methods such as debit and prepaid cards or PayPal. "People can run up tens of thousands of dollars by using credit cards and this was a good way to put a check on gambling habits," said Steven Adamske, communications director for the House Financial Services Committee.
Other rules for licensees: They couldn't market to underage gamblers or accept bets from people who aren't old enough to make them. They wouldn't be able to take bets from people on a self-excluded list of compulsive gamblers either, and online gamblers would have to set loss limits.
The bill also requires that licensees have a substantial U.S. presence, and they have to make sure that they're taking bets only from people based in places that allow Internet gambling.
Licensees would also have to consult with Indian tribes on how they would implement their plans.
"We shouldn't be telling [Americans] what to do with their own money," Adamske said.
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