No Action on Federal Poker Bill Until Next Year

As the so called ‘fiscal cliff’ looms congress has put any internet gambling legislature on the back burner for now. The fiscal proposals have caused volatile trading in markets around the globe. What some in congress fail to realize is that the Reid Kyl poker bill could generate billions in new tax revenues. Last year the DOJ cracked down on internet gambling and closed three of the largest internet poker operators. John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance pointed out that the three sites served the needs of about two-thirds of all online layers in the United States. Since the raids the poker sites have moved overseas and are not operating in the US.

Gaming industry experts have estimated that 10 to 15 million gamblers in the US bet $4 billion to $6 billion online annually. Unfortunately for the government most of the gaming sites are located offshore and the government receives no tax revenues from the wagers. Currently there are no figures showing just how much of the total is generated by poker. If internet poker were legalized and taxed Pappas said that the added revenue would be “nothing to sneeze at.”

Pappas pointed out that if Reid’s bill became law the federal government could collect and pass along to states billions in new revenues annually. The Poker Player’s Alliance is in favor of Reid’s bill and said “We have always advocated licensed and regulated Internet poker. This would establish a U.S. system that would create strong regulations and keep bad actors out. It would allow the market to be run by regulated companies based here in the U.S. who would be accountable to U.S. players and U.S. regulators.”  Pappas said the potential revenue for the government would be “extremely high.”

The PPA does not like everything in Reid’s bill. The bill would not allow American players to compete against players in other countries. The bill would also exclude operators who previously offered online poker for a period of five years. Pappas stated “We think that’s unduly unfair and would eliminate some of the best operators globally. It’s part of the anticompetitive nature of this bill.”  Opponents of Reid’s bill include Catholic Advocate and grassroots organization 60 Plus Association that claims the expansion of internet gambling will hurt seniors and the poor. In a hypocritical statement the American Gaming Association, which represents land based casinos said that problem gamblers and minors will be put at unnecessary risk. For now it looks like poker players will have to wait until 2013 until any action is taken on the poker bill.

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