The Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee held a hearing on Tuesday regarding the future legislation of online gaming. The panel members are going to need some time to deliberate before making a decision but they’ve hinted that they may go forward with the legislation to legalize some forms of online gambling.

Both politicians and industry leaders said they feel the time has come to allow casinos to operate online. Mary Bono Mack is the chairwoman to the Energy and Commerce Committee. She said that gambling is regulated in all but two states in the country.

During the hearing, many lawmakers introduced statistics that showed the millions of Americans were already gambling online. The money ends up in the pockets of illegal gambling sites in other parts of the world. Also, these players have no protections since the industry isn’t regulated. Regulations would mean that states and the federal government would be able to tax poker sites. This could create $2 billion in tax revenue each year. It would also create necessary protections for those Americans that were already playing online poker.

Many industry advocates also voiced their opinions in front of the Committee. Frank J. Fahrenkopf of the American Gaming Association (AGA) listed many benefits to legalizing online poker, including tax revenues and the creation of new high-tech jobs. “Today’s hearing on Internet gambling made it abundantly clear that the “safe bet” is to allow states, following federal guidelines, to license and regulate online poker. Such action would protect U.S. consumers, keep children from gambling on the Internet, and provide the tools law enforcement needs to shut down illegal Internet gambling operators. It would also create new jobs and tax revenue at a time when our country sorely needs both,” he said.

Also, Alfonse D’ Amato of the Poker Player’s Alliance said that the American people are in favor of legalizing the industry. D’ Amato also said that it’s unclear whether online poker is actually illegal, considering the Wire Act was written to prevent online sports betting.

Another speaker was Joe Barton, a representative from Texas who said that the legislation in place to criminalize online poker has failed miserably. The federal government has attempted to bar financial institutions from processing payments from online gambling sites. They were unable to do so successfully. Barton also said that since online poker is a game of skill, there is no reason for the game to be illegal.

The Committee will take these testimonies as they make their deliberations. No date has been set, but a decision is believed to be on its way.

What are your thoughts on the future of online poker? Share them I our Black Friday, 3 months later forum thread.

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