My Thoughts on the Barton Bill

I think an online gaming bill will pass in the near future (1-2 years). If Representative Barton’s bill passes, it will likely do so only after a significant amount of negotiation and concessions.

I have concerns, however, that players and operators aren’t going to like whatever new online gambling laws are passed in the US – at least not at first. First of all, while I expect new laws to permit US persons to play online poker, it will very likely expressly prohibit other forms of online gaming, such as casino games. I far prefer poker over playing blackjack, craps, roulette, etc. however I know many poker players who enjoy casino games too. The US public clearly wants the ability to play casino games, and operators would like (and should be able) to offer them. While the new law will be a huge leap forward for poker players, it will likely represent a step back for other forms of online wagering.
Second, I fear that federal and state agencies will overreach in their efforts to extract dollars from operators and players. One justification for legalizing online gaming is all the tax revenue it will generate. Lawmakers are not going to forget those promises when it comes time to structure the financial terms of obtaining an online gaming license. The result is likely to be high rakes and slim profit margins – neither of which are very conducive to establishing a thriving online gaming industry in the US.
I was discussing the current state of US gaming laws and the debate around them with an Alderney regulator recently. He observed that it appears the US is set to make many of the same mistakes that European jurisdictions have made in legalizing and regulating online gaming. Congress should be in dialog with representatives from Alderney, Isle of Man, Italy, France, etc. to extract as much knowledge from them as possible before finalizing any laws relating to online gaming.
So yes, I think a poker bill will pass, but I worry it won’t be right. I fear we may endure 10-20 years of regulatory mistakes before we arrive at the legal environment we need in the US for online poker to thrive.

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