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Last week, Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX) introduced a bipartisan bill that would end the federal online gambling ban. The Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection, and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2011 has nine original cosponsors from both sides of the aisle, including Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) and Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA), who have advocated for similar legislation in the past. Congressman Barton is Chairman Emeritus of the powerful U.S. House Committee on Energy & Commerce and has significant influence on the legislative process; which gives the bill an increased likelihood of passage.
Currently, online gambling is prohibited at the federal level, thanks to stringent regulations that affect financial transactions of Internet gambling operators. The regulation has caused the online gambling sector to move overseas, to avoid the new regulations. Nonetheless, in April this year the F.B.I. seized three poker websites, effectively shutting down access to them, charging them with bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling.
Congressman Barton’s bill would repeal the ban and instead allow states to decide whether to allow residents to participate in Internet gambling. One of the bill’s only requirements would be that online gambling operators must be licensed in at least one state. The bill would bring back the Internet gambling business to U.S. borders, paving the way for thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in new revenue. Giving power back to the states and the people is what Congressman Barton’s bill does, and that is the essence and foundation of the Constitution.