Expect a media storm around yesterday’s announcement that a new bill to regulate online poker has been introduced into the U.S. Congress.

Over the past year, the mainstream media has focused more and more on the economic benefits of regulated online gambling, and with Harry Reid’s much-publicized last-minute attempt to get a bill passed last year, as well as current high-profile efforts by state governments in California, New Jersey, Florida, and Iowa, the media is likely to run with this story like never before.

So far, the coverage is limited to mostly online gaming and online business publications like PartTimePoker.com and PokerNewsDaily.com, but look for that to change in the next few days as the media takes notice.

Nuts and bolts
The bill, the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act, “is apparently identical to H.R. 2267, an online gambling bill that passed the House Financial Services Committee last summer but did not reach the House floor,” explains PartTimePoker.com.

The legislation was introduced by Representative John Campbell of California and Massachusetts Representative, House Financial Services ranking member, and long-time online gambling advocate Barney Frank, along with Reps. Peter King of New York and Ed Perlmutter of Colorado. (That’s two Democrats and two Republicans, if you’re counting.)

The bill’s target is the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006, which has created turmoil in the U.S. online gaming market, forcing some huge international operators out of the market while driving some others underground.

“The legislation mirrors a bill, sponsored by Frank, that was approved by the Financial Services Committee last year,” according to the National Journal.

According to the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), the bill calls for “new technologies to prevent underage play and problem gambler abuse. The bill expands consumer protections not included in the current Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). In addition, the Federal Government and the states will have the authority to prevent consumer fraud and generate revenue through taxes that are currently being paid to competing countries.”

“Clearly, Americans want to gamble on the internet, and policymakers need to provide both the freedom to do so, as well as ensure that appropriate consumer protections are in place,” Rep. Campbell said in a statement, per the Orange County Register. “Regulating online gaming and making certain that these sites are operating legally in America will also create economic growth through generated tax revenue and the possibility of attracting foreign players to U.S. sites.”

Odds are …
In an American political climate that’s more conservative than it has been in years, it’ll be interesting to see how this bill performs over the next few months.

It’s too early to name the odds, but the bill could potentially get some big support from big-name casino interests like Caesars Entertainment, which has gone on record as preferring a federal online gaming regulatory system, as opposed to a state-by-state scenario.

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