Congress Finally Discusses Online Poker

| by Sports Nickel

There was some good news today in the fight to legalize online poker. 

Poker’s strongest supporter, Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank, along with Washington Democrat Jim McDermott, presented some strong testimony to the House Ways and Means committee in support of HR 4796, which is an attempt to regulate online gambling, provide for a way to collect tax dollars from the business, and effectively open the United States market for increased online gambling. It is estimated that HR 4796 will generate over $70 billion dollars for state and federal government.

The importance of getting the ball rolling on HR 4796 now is because the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) is set to finally be implemented on the 1st of June.

The Executive Director of the Poker Players Alliance, John Pappas, issued this statement: “Today’s hearing underscores the increasing Congressional interest in a licensed and regulated online gaming environment. While robust consumer protections provided by regulation are the biggest selling point, in the current economic environment, additional tax revenue derived from a licensed industry is certainly appealing as well.”

“It is important to note that this bill would not levy a new tax on poker players. Rather, it requires each licensed Internet gambling operator to pay a licensing fee – nothing would be deducted from a player’s deposit. Individuals would be required to pay annual income taxes on their net winnings, just like players who collect winnings in land-based casinos do today.”

“The PPA is working to remove language from the bill that would fine players who play on unlicensed sites as we firmly believe that the unlicensed sites should bear the full consequences of not obtaining a license in the U.S.”

“We thank the Committee for holding this important hearing today. We look forward to a successful mark up of legislation to license and regulate online gaming in July in the House Financial Services Committee.”

Also issuing a statement was Michael Waxman, the spokesman for the Safe and Security Internet Gambling Initiative.

“Today’s witnesses clearly articulated why Congress should give fair consideration to regulating online gambling activity as a way to protect Americans, stimulate the economy by creating tens of thousands of new jobs and profit from the collecting of tens of billions of otherwise lost revenue. Upon hearing today’s testimony and acknowledgement that current attempts to prohibit online gambling have failed, it simply makes sense for Congress to address this issue and take control of the thriving underground marketplace.”

“With our national unemployment rate at more than 10 percent and all but six states anticipating budget shortfalls for the 2011 fiscal year, this legislation is a win-win. It’s not every day that the opportunity to generate billions of dollars and creates tens of thousands of jobs comes along. Congress should seize the opportunity that this legislation presents and move forward in regulating Internet gambling.”

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