An American Gaming Association (AGA) release issued after a hearing held by its subcommittee last week regarding the issue of protecting online poker customers by regulating and legalizing the online poker industry strongly advocates the US online poker legalization.
Representative Mary Bono Mack chaired this hearing and heard testimonies from a panel of witnesses comprising Alfonse D’Amato, the chairman of the Poker Players Alliance; Keith Whyte, the executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling; and Ernest L. Stevens, the chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association. The hearing was held under the title “Internet Gaming: Is There a Safe Bet?” and the AGA’s answer is “Yes, that safe bet can be found in the licensing and regulation of online poker.”
Although the subcommittee intended to debate the issue of online gambling, it ended up focusing on online poker. Speaking about the differences between poker and other games of chance, Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., the president and CEO of AGA, said: “Poker is substantially different than other forms of gaming. First, it is a game that vast numbers of Americans have historically played and that millions of Americans still play. In fact, the jargon of poker is woven throughout our language with phrases such as blue chip, pass the buck, high roller, wild card, poker face and up the ante.”
“Second, unlike other forms of Internet gambling, poker is primarily a game of skill. And, poker is played between or among individuals, whereas in other forms of Internet gambling the customer is playing against the “house.” Finally, the support we’ve seen around the country is really focused on online poker and not on other forms of Internet gambling,” he added.
The AGA statement further pointed out that the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) 2006 does not serve the purpose of preventing players from playing online poker because there were always online poker rooms to take the place of those that leave the US market. Suggesting that the UIGEA 2006 should be strengthened, the AGA states that new laws should be formed to protect consumers.
The AGA also believes that legalizing online poker will generate jobs and increase revenue. Besides, it opines that states should be given the freedom to legalize and regulate the online poker industry and that federal gambling guidelines must be framed to guide states. It also supports the provision of powers to US law enforcement bodies to prosecute those who violate US gambling laws.