The draft of the bill supporting legalization of online gambling, including online poker, proposed by Jon Kyl of Arizona and Harry Reid of Nevada is now being circulated under the title “Representative Joe Barton’s Bill in the House (Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2012).” Besides suggesting the legalization and regulation of the online poker industry, the bill also proposes to strengthen certain existing poker laws.
The bill will cancel the recent DoJ announcement that the Wire Act of 1961 does not apply to betting on online casino and online poker games. Besides, it also suggests amendments to the Wire Act of 1961, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006, and the Illegal Gambling Business Act (IGBA) of 1970.
If the bill is accepted, the department of commerce will have to frame a new government body called the Office of Online Poker Oversight (OOPO), which will oversee Indian as well as state-level gambling and their gambling regulatory bodies. The OOPO will also grant licenses to any gambling operator who applies for licenses. Besides, it will create a set of standards for operators of online poker rooms and will slap fines of as much as $750,000 on those who violate its norms. An online poker operator who violates an OOPO guideline or rule would stand in danger of losing its license.
The proposed bill will prohibit all forms of state-level gambling except horse race betting and online poker. If any other forms of gambling activities are run, the offenders could get a prison sentence as long as 10 years along with fines.
The bill also prevents granting of licenses to any gambling company caught operating online gambling services in the US after 2006. In this case, PokerStars will not be granted a license to operate in the US although the US DoJ recently signed a settlement deal with it, according to the terms of which PokerStars is free to apply for an online poker license when the US regulates its online poker industry.
The bill also proposes a waiting period of around 15 months before the legalized US poker market would begin functioning.
The two senators who had proposed the bill could not agree on it for a long time. Besides, Reid had received a letter from Heller, stating that “it would be best for the Senate to step back and let the House of Representatives act first on Web Poker.”