When the US Department of Justice (DoJ) announced in December that it has changed its interpretation of the Wire Act, the online poker gaming world became more optimistic than ever regarding the regulation and legalization of the US online poker industry at the federal level.

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A federal house sub committee recently held a couple of hearings regarding the legalization of the online poker industry. Although everybody who deposed before the sub committee agreed that legalization is the need of the hour, the house committee has not yet acted on the only proposed bill at present, which is the Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection, and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2011, also referred to as H. R. 2366.

The various challenges that online poker legalization might face were also discussed during the hearings. The Native American tribes are not enthusiastic about regulating the online poker industry because they lack the finances to compete against giant gaming companies. Even the gambling companies based in Las Vegas cannot come to a consensus regarding the subject of legalizing online poker.

Moreover, the Barton Bill is something that many online poker players dread because it actually “strengthens the UIGEA).” The Barton Bill makes an online gaming site illegal and “subject to blocking and/or seizure by the US government” if it does not have a license issued by the US federal government.

Even if the Barton’s Bill is passed, the House, which is dominated by Republican representatives, is strongly against online gambling. Some of the most ferocious opponents of all forms of online gambling are Eric Cantor, the house majority leader, and Spencer Bachus. What’s more, they are capable of blocking any pro online poker laws that come up for votes to the House. Besides, this is also the year for elections. Taking all these factors into consideration, one can safely conclude that the federal government will not be able to make any move toward online poker legalization during 2012.

The future of state wise legalization of poker is also bleak. While Gary Thompson of Caesars Entertainment and James Murren of MGM Resorts are staunch advocates of online poker legalization, Anthony Marnell of M. Resorts and Sheldon Adelson of Las Vegas Sands are staunch opponents of the same.

The DoJ’s latest interpretation of the Wire Act might have opened the door to opportunities, but federal legalization of online poker might not become a reality in the near future.

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