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Congress / energy

Energy And Commerce Panel To Examine Net Gambling

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass.(Richard A. Bloom)

October 19, 2011

It looks like supporters of fully legalizing online poker may get a chance to make their case before Congress.

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade has scheduled a hearing for next Tuesday on Internet gambling. While the hearing is not specifically focused on online poker, the panel will likely discuss legislation introduced this summer by Reps. Joe Barton, R-Texas, and Barney Frank, D-Mass. The measure has been referred to the subcommittee.

Barton's bill would authorize online betting on poker and direct the Commerce Department to set up a licensing and consumer protection regime. While playing poker online is not illegal, it is unlawful to bet, according to Barton.

Supporters argue that millions of Americans already play poker online but often do so on offshore sites that offer few consumer protections. The American Gaming Association has pointed to the lawsuit the Justice Department filed last month against Full Tilt Poker, which was accused of cheating its members out of millions of dollars, as an example of why Congress should legalize and regulate online poker.

Congress enacted a law in 2006 banning payments for online gambling and requiring payment processors to block payments for online bets. The Financial Services Committee in the last Congress approved legislation offered by Frank, who was chairman of the panel at the time, that would have essentially unraveled that law.

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