Earlier this week Senators Jon Kyl of Arizona and Harry Reid of Nevada jointly wrote a letter to United States Attorney General Eric Holder, asking for clarification on questions of internet gaming law.
The Senators say they are worried about inconsistent interpretations about the law, and they delicately allege that the Justice Department is responsible for perpetuating them.
For example, the Senators claim that “at least 1,700 foreign sites continue to offer gambling to U.S. players,” implying that recent indictments should have ensnared more operators if the Justice Department had been enforcing the law “aggressively and consistently.”
The alliance between Sens. Kyl and Reid is curious, considering Kyl had been the Senate’s most vocal opponent of internet gambling prior to UIGEA, while Reid is presumed to be uniquely sensitive to the needs of the American gaming industry.
Another worry cited by the Senators is efforts to legalize intrastate internet gambling, especially via state-sponsored lotteries.
The Senators conclude by “respectfully requesting” that the Justice Department either reiterate its “longstanding position that federal law prohibits gambling over the internet,” or at least consult with Congress if it is contemplating a new position.
The letter is available in its entirety via the Las Vegas Sun.
It appears the American Gaming Association is a little annoyed that a speech by its President Frank Fahrenkopf, Jr. has been so widely paraphrased in industry media reports.
“This reminds me of the days when every time Barney Frank burped, the London Stock Exchange went up,” Fahrenkopf later told Gambling Compliance.
In an article made available to AGA to share with its Twitter followers, Fahrenkopf clarifies that the American Gaming Association has not actually written or seen a bill.
Fahrenkopf is responding to reports that the AGA plans to introduce a bill that would compete with the one introduced by Rep. Joe Barton under the aegis of the Poker Players Association.
Based on a speech Fahrenkopf delivered at a conference in Madrid last week, the reports were specific about certain elements of a regulatory system that the AGA would support, and how it might differ from the PPA proposal.
But Fahrenkopf also tells Gambling Compliance that if Senator Harry Reid of Nevada were to introduce legislation, then perhaps the AGA could support it.
“He’s a former regulator, and he knows the gaming industry,” Fahrenkopf said. “But I don’t know if he will introduce a bill this fall. I hope somebody does.”
We wonder–> Is that to suggest that the authors of Barton’s H.R. 2366 do not know the gaming industry well enough to legislate for it….?
Access the full Gambling Compliance article by clicking through a July 11 AGAupdate tweet.
The following report is clipped from a longer article featured at Global Betting & Gaming Consultants:
Introduced on June 24, the bill currently pending before the U.S. House of Representatives would create an interstate licensing system for internet poker in which states and Indian tribes continue to exercise power over gambling within their territories.
The full title of Rep. Barton’s bill is the “Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection, and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2011”. It proposes to give the U.S. Department of Commerce authority to create an “Office of Internet Poker Oversight” which would certify state and tribal regulatory agencies before they can award any licenses to operate Internet poker within their territories.
But foreign operators should not be amused. For the first two years after enactment of H.R. 2366, licences to operate Internet poker would be restricted to companies of a certain size that have been operating regulated gambling services in the U.S. for at least five years already. Then at the end of two years, all other operators would become able to apply for a licence – but only if the Office of Internet Poker Oversight first makes a finding that there would be no risk to the public in opening the market to more providers.
But of course it’s still very early in the legislative process for H.R. 2366. Many opportunities for mark-ups, amendments and delays remain.
Furthermore, the American Gaming Association (AGA) now says it will introduce an Internet poker bill of its own after Congress’ summer break.
(For details of the draft proposal as outlined by AGA’s Presidnet and CEO Frank Fahrenkopf, Jr, see GBGC article: Barton US Online Poker Bill Faces AGA Rival.)
And so lawmakers will face the challenge of having to grasp the implications of two competing proposals to correct a situation which they have utterly failed to understand over the last 16 years. An optimist would hope they will take time to consider both proposals and enact a solution that combines the best elements from each. But it’s more likely that the one with heavier political clout will gain favor, and probably even more likely that neither one makes it out of its committees and onto the floor of the House or Senate.
Confusion abounds in Washington D.C. following a June 29 hearing on i-gaming issues. The hearing was called to discuss legislation that was enacted in December after being stealthily attached to a budget bill by Council member Michael Brown, who now finds himself the subject of conflict of interests questioning.
Apparently the provisions related to i-gaming had never been discussed by the Council, and several Council members now claim they didn’t even know what they had enacted. Although it is true that there never was a hearing or public debate until now, it would be quite shocking if Council members hadn’t known about the legislation.
“Maybe some people didn’t read the budget,” says Brown.
The law, if followed through, would enable the city of Washington D.C. to operate games within its borders, making it the very first district in the U.S. to do so. The city’s Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan appeared at the hearing to say he believed the plan complied with federal law. Nathan also said he has sought the federal Justice Department’s opinion but has not yet received a response.
For further details, see the following articles in the Washington Post:
D.C. Council challenges plans for rolling out virtual casino
D.C. plans to launch online casino
DC readies nation’s first government-run online poker operation, and stakes will be low