Congressman Proposes to Legalize Online Gambling on Federal Level

Posted By: Date: 06/07/2013 at 12:00 am Leave a comment

In April of 2011, the US government made it quite clear that online gambling was entirely illegal in the United States. Later that same year, that stance was change, giving individual states the right to decide for themselves if online gambling would be permissible, but only on an intrastate level. Now US lawmakers are pushing legislation that would decriminalize internet gaming on a federal level, providing a uniform regulatory framework. 

Peter King, a republican congressman from New York, has introduced a bill a new bill intended to legalize online gambling on a national echelon. At present, online gambling laws are considered a gray area in the US. If this bill makes it into the books, it would open the doorway for interstate online gambling markets, making a much more encouraging landscape for individual states to incorporate internet gaming laws.

At present, only the states of Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey – in that order – have passed online gambling laws of some type. Delaware and New Jersey have chosen to legalize multiple forms of internet gambling, while Nevada chose to implement a legal framework that allows for online poker games only. Thanks to its limited approach to legalization, Nevada was the first, and currently the only, state to actually launch a real-money gambling site; Ultimate Poker.

Congressman King’s new bill, termed the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act of 2013, was introduced on Thursday. King said that his proposition would promote safety and security among the industry, for both operators and players. States would be able to provide a blueprint for online gambling that players could feel confident navigating.

“A common federal standard will ensure strong protections for consumers, protect against problem and underage gambling,” explained King, “and make it easier for businesses, players, lawmakers and regulators to navigate and freely participate.”

One of the internet gambling bill’s key points would be to enforce standardized safeguards against underage and problem gambling. At the moment, any state that chooses to legalize intrastate online gaming must come up with its own, satisfactory safeguards. A new division would be created within the Treasury Department to oversee the internet gambling industry. Individual states would still retain the right to accept or decline their participation in online gambling within their borders, but those states that do choose to be a part of the industry would have permission to operate on an interstate level.

State officials in Nevada have made it clear that they want online gambling to be regulated on a federal platform, in hopes of branching out into other states’ markets. While it makes sense that Nevada would be the first to launch online gambling sites in the US, the state simply does not have the population to support an intrastate market. Just as Las Vegas would not thrive if only the Silver State’s residents were permitted to play at the casinos, Nevada only stands to flourish in the online gambling sector by accepting players from a much broader spectrum.

The American Gaming Association (AGA) is expected to back King’s bill with fervor, but the organization has only supported the federal legalization of online poker in the past. A meeting has been slated next month wherein AGA member will decide whether or not to support the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act of 2013. According to Frank Fahrenkopf, CEO of the AGA, since states started passing their own laws, there is more urgency now than ever before to devise a uniform framework for online gaming across the US.