On the heels of Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio’s efforts to stick a fork in legal online gambling in the U.S., Republican Texas Congressman, Joe Barton has re-introduced legislation that would clarify online poker as specifically legal if states wish to allow the game.
The nexus of regulation would be in the U.S. Department of Commerce who would offer a system accessible to states who wish to license and regulate the game.
Barton, an avid player, contends that poker is a game of skill easily differentiated from games of chance such as blackjack, roulette, and other games found on casino floors.
“Poker is an all-American game,” he offered in a statement. “It’s a game that I learned as a teen and continue to play today. Just like millions of other players, I enjoy the strategy and skill involved.”
He added that, “[his bill] creates one federal standard that protects the integrity of the game and the financial interests of players.”
The bill includes language that would provide resources for problem gamblers and require the use of technology to block underage players.
Barton has introduced 2 similar bills previously.
Republican super-donor and casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson has decidedly changed the environment in Washington in regard to legalized online gambling support. Adelson backs candidates and supports legislation to outlaw all forms of gambling online. In a June 2013 interview with Bloomberg TV he said of poker, “That skill base is, in my opinion, just a bunch of baloney. To get a card is not skill base. I know people say it is skill based, but it’s just so they can categorize it in a certain segment.”
As to online gambling as a whole he said, “I think it is a train wreck. It’s really toxicity. It is a cancer waiting to happen.”
Six co-sponsor in the Senate have signed onto the Graham bill, reportedly crafted by Adelson while Republican Jason Chaffetz of Utah has found 19 co-sponsors to put their names on a similar bill in the House.
Barton’s bill was re-introduced with 2 co-sponsors.
Texas has a single legal land based poker room located in the Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino.