Legalising online poker

jetset

RIP Brian
Joined
Feb 22, 2001
Location
Earth
The Barton Bill was launched Friday, and presents a formidable range of restrictions and (in my opinion) blatantly protectionist measures that would have the European Commission up in arms.

As Bryan said earlier this week "be careful what you wish for!"

ONLINE POKER LEGALISATION BILL LAUNCHED (Update)

Joe Barton reveals content of HR2366

After weeks of publicity prepping and industry speculation, the Republican representative from Texas, Joe Barton, launched his online poker legalisation proposal Friday, achieving massive mainstream media coverage from a press conference in Washington DC.

Coded HR2366, the Online Poker Act of 2011 was introduced to the House of Assembly Friday through the House Energy and Commerce Committee, as had been widely predicted.

The bill has strong initial and bipartisan support from 11 representatives including Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), John Campbell (R-Calif.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Michael Grimm (R-NY), Mike Honda (D-Calif.), Peter King (R-NY), Ron Paul (R-Tex.), Ed Perlmutter (D-Col.) and Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.).

Introducing his bill, Barton commented: "Poker is an all-American game, and it's a game that requires strategy and skill.

"Millions of Americans play poker online. ... 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. To put it simply, this bill is about having the personal freedom to play a skill-based game you enjoy without fear of breaking the law."

Congressmen Campbell and Frank, who have their own and wider online gambling bill in progress, gave their approval to Barton's bill, reports Associated Press. The Poker Players Alliance, which assisted Barton in drafting the legislation, has also expressed its approval.

"I don't happen to gamble myself, but freedom is not about legislating what I like to do and making illegal what I don't," Campbell said in a press release. "Freedom is about allowing responsible Americans to do what they happen to enjoy."

The bill (again as predicted) seeks to form an Office of Internet Poker Oversight within the U.S. Commerce Department, tasked with overseeing state agencies empowered to issue licenses.

Many of the other provisions of the bill have been either leaked or speculated upon in past weeks, and include:

* The bill is federal in nature, and automatically covers all US states, unless individual state legislatures decide to opt out. States retain the right to legislate their own intrastate online poker, but only if the state concerned has passed a law establishing such practices before the federal law is enacted.

* An apparently protectionist provision that is bound to ignite controversy is a proposal that for at least the first two years, the only companies able to obtain a licence will be major land-based casinos, race tracks and card rooms located in the U.S. After the initial two week period the Commerce Secretary would have authority to widen this provision.

The bill sets out the requirements for licensees in those initial and advantaged years as: “For the first two years of the program, only current holders of state or tribal issued gaming or racing licenses who have substantial land-based gaming operations could be primary licensees.”

* The Barton bill explicitly prohibits all other forms of Internet gambling that is not already legal under current laws.

* Another provision that is likely to be criticised as impractical in an internet environment is a requirement that credit cards will not be accepted when players seek to deposit.

* Minimum age limit to play online poker will be set at 21 years.

* Self-exclusion facilities must be provided to players. “Each qualified state agency shall establish and maintain a list of persons self-excluded from playing internet poker through internet poker facilities licensed by the qualified state agency. Each week, each qualified state agency shall submit to the Secretary a current copy of the list,” the proposal stipulates.

* Licenses will have a life of five years, with serious punitive measures applied to any unlicensed operators who offer their services to US residents.

* Operators applying for licensing would have to prove that they are fair, able to screen out minors, ensure tax collection and prevent money laundering in order to secure licenses.

* Stiff criminal and punitive measures will be introduced to guard against cheating and even the use of bots; these may include fines, imprisonment up to three years and exclusion from any further participation. It is not clear how these measures will be interpreted or implemented.

* US licensees will have to locate servers and other internet hardware resources within the United States.

* Where an operator's licence is revoked, player funds must be repatriated to them within 30 days.

* Importantly, the bill also seeks to establish exactly which websites are regarded by the US government as illegal in terms of applying the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. It requires that the US Treasury Secretary publish a list of unlawful Internet gambling sites. Whilst this puts pressure on the government to more clearly define what it regards as illegal, it should make the task of enforcement by banks and financial institutes easier and avoid 'over-blocking' by confused banking officials.

* In a related provision, the bill also requires the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network to create a list of illegal offshore Internet gambling operators that would be blocked from receiving transfers from U.S. financial institutions in terms of the UIGEA.

The political publication The Hill commented that the two year advantage given to large US gambling companies effectively means that the corporations that currently control the U.S. gambling industry will likely dominate online in the short term.

The trade body that represents the interests of the major American land-based operators commented: "Although the American Gaming Association has not endorsed any specific legislation on this issue, we are pleased that Rep. Barton wants to protect American consumers and understands the need for regulating online poker in our country.

"The millions of Americans who are playing poker online deserve to know they are playing safely with law-abiding operators, but strong enforcement of illegal operators and unambiguous U.S. laws governing online gambling are equally vital."

It is not at present known how the Barton bill will integrate with online gambling taxation proposals introduced earlier this week by Rep. Jim McDermott in bill HR2230 (see previous InfoPowa reports).

HR2230 appears to require US-licensed online poker operators to withhold 28 percent of all net winnings. To ensure tax is withheld, poker sites would be required to provide the names, addresses and tax identification numbers of all players to the government.

In addition, licensed operators will have to provide tax-relevant information on gross winnings, gross wagers and gross losses on each person for every calendar year, and the amount of tax withheld on these winnings.

There is also a 2 percent tax on the online poker operator, and individual states are permitted to tax at up to 6 percent.

These rather draconian taxation requirements are unlikely to sit well with internet players accustomed to a more economical and free-wheeling environment.

Representative Barton's staff thoughtfully included a "talking points" addendum to the official statement launching HR2366.

One of the interesting nuggets of information in this addendum implies that certain states with the most history in regulating the most gaming - Nevada and New Jersey - regulated more than 5 percent of total U.S. gaming for three of the previous five years, and would therefore be eligible to issue federally-appoved licenses, whereas other states would have to make application.

Nevada recently passed legislation tasking the Nevada Gaming Board with preparing regulations for online poker subject to federal legalisation.

However, in what seems to be something of a contradiction, the Barton bill also notes: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law and subject to the provisions of this title, a licensee may accept a bet or wager with respect to internet poker from an individual located in the United States.”

How major online poker operators offshore will fare under the Barton bill is also open to argument; consider this guide for the approval of licensees: “In carrying out a suitability analysis of a person…a qualified state agency shall consider whether such person operated an internet gambling facility before the date of the enactment of this Act and the scope of such person’s activities with respect to such operation.”

Licensing bodies are also enjoined to demand highly detailed information from prospective licensees, such as financial records, criminal history, and business and regulatory compliance plans.
 

baldidiot

Full Member
webmeister
Joined
Oct 1, 2010
Location
London
Thanks for the write up! :thumbsup:

Two things have specifically caught my interest. First is this going to push the states who were considering having their own intrastate network into acting? (the write up says that only states who have this in place before the bill comes in could have such a system)

And second, is a buying spree on the cards for the big vegas casinos? For example, if MGM picked up full tilt they would instantly dominate the american market, and have a strong foothold in the non-US market.
 

Mousey

Ueber Meister Mouse
Joined
Sep 12, 2004
Location
Up$hitCreek
The Barton Bill was launched Friday, and presents a formidable range of restrictions and (in my opinion) blatantly protectionist measures that would have the European Commission up in arms.

Oh, come now... for the past several years we (the USA government) pretty much told the WTO to f**k off, we've seized .com domains, we've arrested and held hostage people who're running sites that are perfectly legal in most of the civilized world, we've seized millions and millions of dollars that belongs to players and businesses scattered all over the world, we've extorted millions from reputable companies like Partypoker, NETeller, etc., people have been jailed, thousands of employees put out of work, online casinos and processors closed ..... personally, I think it's a little late for the European Commission to get its knickers in a twist over USA's protectionism. LOL

We knew, all these years that it is all about the money. And I rather expected protectionist legislation -- after all, protectionism is what these past 7 or 8+ years of harrassment by the feds has been about.

But ... I wish the EC would get all lathered up! I'm so freaking tired of this huge ugly gorilla that takes what it wants, does whatever it wants, where it wants, when it wants, and no one (except players) gives a flying rat's a$$ about it.
 

anniemac

Ueber Meister
PABnoaccred
MM
Joined
Jan 30, 2007
Location
Texas, USA
I find it really ironic that this bill would be put forth by a Texas Representative. We can't get a casino in Texas to save our souls and the horse tracks here are dieing a a slow death but Barton can write a poker legalization bill? You can bet that the large land based casinos have their fingers in the pot on this.

I agree with you, Mousey. It's about time the EU grew a pair and quit letting the US good old boys run roughshod over them.

Bet Fair may come out smelling like a rose because they are already established in the US horse betting area.
 

4 of a kind

Repeated violations of forum rule 1.16 - troll
Joined
Mar 11, 2009
Location
New York
HR2230 appears to require US-licensed online poker operators to withhold 28 percent of all net winnings. To ensure tax is withheld, poker sites would be required to provide the names, addresses and tax identification numbers of all players to the government.

In addition, licensed operators will have to provide tax-relevant information on gross winnings, gross wagers and gross losses on each person for every calendar year, and the amount of tax withheld on these winnings.

There is also a 2 percent tax on the online poker operator, and individual states are permitted to tax at up to 6 percent.

This is pretty much the only thing that ever mattered to the USA government. All the other alleged concerns are meaningless.

Most online players in the USA got away with over a decade of tax free gambling abroad online. Similar tax laws were always already in place with land based casinos in the USA.
 

jetset

RIP Brian
Joined
Feb 22, 2001
Location
Earth
Oh, come now... for the past several years we (the USA government) pretty much told the WTO to f**k off, we've seized .com domains, we've arrested and held hostage people who're running sites that are perfectly legal in most of the civilized world, we've seized millions and millions of dollars that belongs to players and businesses scattered all over the world, we've extorted millions from reputable companies like Partypoker, NETeller, etc., people have been jailed, thousands of employees put out of work, online casinos and processors closed ..... personally, I think it's a little late for the European Commission to get its knickers in a twist over USA's protectionism. LOL

We knew, all these years that it is all about the money. And I rather expected protectionist legislation -- after all, protectionism is what these past 7 or 8+ years of harrassment by the feds has been about.

But ... I wish the EC would get all lathered up! I'm so freaking tired of this huge ugly gorilla that takes what it wants, does whatever it wants, where it wants, when it wants, and no one (except players) gives a flying rat's a$$ about it.


Just for clarity, my opening remark on the EC was intended to show that EU nations that have tried similar protectionist moves as those in the Barton bill have been criticised by the European Commission.

I doubt - especially under its new leadership which is less aggressive than Charlie McCreevy was - that it will take issue with the US, and if it does it will only be if the bill is actually passed.

If they could square it with the DoJ, I think the big gambling groups in the US would be smart to acquire something like Full Tilt, although its reputation appears to be headed south more every day that it delays refunding US players.

I'll bet the Antiguans will have something to say as well, not that it appears to do them a lot of good in real terms.
 

Mousey

Ueber Meister Mouse
Joined
Sep 12, 2004
Location
Up$hitCreek
Just for clarity, my opening remark on the EC was intended to show that EU nations that have tried similar protectionist moves as those in the Barton bill have been criticised by the European Commission.

I doubt - especially under its new leadership which is less aggressive than Charlie McCreevy was - that it will take issue with the US, and if it does it will only be if the bill is actually passed.

If they could square it with the DoJ, I think the big gambling groups in the US would be smart to acquire something like Full Tilt, although its reputation appears to be headed south more every day that it delays refunding US players.

I'll bet the Antiguans will have something to say as well, not that it appears to do them a lot of good in real terms.

Understood. Your input and information and news are always appreciated.

And for clarity, my rant was not directed toward you, but the entire US online gambling situation. :)
 

Luckylizzy

Dormant account
Joined
Apr 28, 2010
Location
Orlando, Fl
I'm so glad to see this new bill has been introduced and with republicans actually backing it up too! It's great news!
 
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