- H.R. 2366 - Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection, & UIGEA Strengthening Act

H.R. 2366 - Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection, and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2011

Online poker fans will be happy to know that Representative Joe Barton (R-TX6) has jumped on board with the legalization of certain forms of online gambling, even if it has been in a preliminary and limited sense. Mr. Barton has introduced H.R. 2366, the Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer protection, and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2011, a piece of legislation that, while it would not legalize much in terms of online gambling, is definitely a step in the right direction. Barton's bill is still in the early stages, but it is worth noting that it does have the potential to be signed into law by legislators.

Under H.R. 2366, the states would be entitled to issue a license for the operation of an Internet gambling site. As long as the license stays valid, these sites would be allow to accept American residents within their borders. This would let licenses be issued for a minimum of 5 years, and each site will have to maintain a level of quality in order to continue operating and renew their license. It would also create civil penalties for those who break the licensing agreement. Various people will automatically be added to self-excluded lists, including those who are delinquent on child support payments, compulsive gamblers, and those who attempt to cheat or have fractured gambling laws.

Unfortunately, this bill is only being written for online poker. As of the current text, it is illegal for any licensee to accept bets or wagers on sports, and all games other than poker are made illegal. The bill goes on to make it a crime for credit cards to be used in making deposits. Therefore, players will have to find an alternative solution to funding their accounts. The status of debit cards or prepaid cards has yet to be determined under the current status of the bill, though it is unlikely that these too will be included.

This law would ultimately amend the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act to prohibit a financial institution or payment processor from being liable under the law, effectively diminishing its power, all the while strengthening it to make it a crime to engage in other forms of online gambling. Other aspects of online gambling that would become a crime include the use of a cheating device or similar tools for circumventing a fair gaming experience.

In the end, this bill is something of a watered down version of Barney Frank's classic H.R. 2267, the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act. This bill, rather than legalizing all forms of online gambling, only focuses on online poker. Players will be able to freely participate in poker, but participating in sports betting or casino games would be made a crime, which somewhat defeats the purpose. The government could ultimately reconsider and adapt the law to further offer other types of gambling, but for now only poker players can really rejoice in this bill, which has already garnered some attention from other legislators.