American online poker could get a major boost if the Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2015, a bill introduced in Congress by Representative Joe Barton (R-TX), passes.

Barton’s bill calls for the establishment of interstate poker compacts; stiff penalties for unlicensed operators; and an opt-out clause for states that aren’t interested in participating in online gambling at all. It would also establish a Federal-level regulatory structure for online gambling operators working in the US.

In short, the Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2015 is the anti-RAWA (Restoration of America’s Wire Act S. 1668 and HR 707).  RAWA, of course, would ban all online gambling in America.

The bill was an immediate hit with the online poker’s biggest lobbying/trade group, the Poker Player’s Alliance (PPA). In a statement to the press, PPA Executive Director, John Pappas lavished praise on the Internet Poker Freedom act saying:

Congressman Barton’s bill is common sense public policy that would allow qualifying states to pool players together to create a more robust market that will drive consumer satisfaction as well as increase state revenues. A clear regulatory environment is in the best interest of all consumers, operators,
regulators, and law enforcement.

While Pappas is certainly right about the need for Federal-level igaming legislation that eliminates the growing patchwork of state regulations, he left out one giant stumbling block; the do-nothing US Congress. The last two sessions of Congress were amongst the least productive in US history and that situation doesn’t look to change any time soon.

Even worse, RAWA and the anti-gambling caucus have the support of billionaire casino owner Shel Adelson. Adelson has some very deep pockets and he’s not afraid to dip into them to purchase the support of Members of Congress who are willing to back his anti-igaming agenda.

All told, the Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2015 is a pretty reasonable bill, and that means it could have a very tough time passing into law under the current Congress.

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