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CLAIM: Rep. King’s bill to regulate Internet gambling activity won’t go anywhere.
REALITY: Opinion in Congress of Internet gambling has changed over the past couple years. No longer is Congress debating whether you can effectively regulate Internet gambling. It’s a question of where the activity is going to be regulated – on a state-by-state basis or by the federal government.
Rep. King’s Internet Gambling Regulation, Enforcement, and Consumer Protection Act of 2013 should get serious consideration since it addresses critical needs – creating a uniform regulatory framework to control the activity and protect consumers throughout the country. Moreover, the Internet, online commerce, and online gambling are by nature interstate activities, demanding the attention of federal, not state, regulators.
CLAIM:Legislation allowingonline poker only has the best chance to be approved.
REALITY:This argument should have been put to rest years ago when theHouse Financial Services Committee overwhelmingly approved legislation that would allow all forms of Internet gambling activity by a 41-22 vote. The top motivation for legislators to focus on this issue, then and now, is to protect consumers. There’s no logic behind the argument that it should be permissible for Americans to play poker and bet on horses online, but can’t play bingo online as well.
CLAIM:States will lose the opportunity to control Internet gambling activity.
REALITY:King’s bill respects the right of each state to determine whether to allow Internet gambling within their respective borders or apply other restrictions on the activity. In cases where a state has legalized some form of Internet gambling activity before the King is enacted, it simply allows their operations to continue unchanged.
There are also significant benefits for state lotteries with the King bill. Specifically, it creates a level playing field for the market and allows state lotteries to broadly expand their operations nationally. They would also be allowed to offer any type of gambling activity permissible within that state at the date of enactment.
CLAIM:King’s legislation will not get support from the tribes.
REALITY: Different tribes have different views on many things, including Internet gambling. Historically, some tribes have opposed Internet gambling, seeing it as a threat to their land-based operations. Other tribes have endorsed it on the condition that they have equal access to compete in the market. Still other tribes have wanted a monopoly on Internet gambling within their state, excluding all other potential operators.
Clearly, there’s a good chance tribes will again have different views on the King bill. On one hand, it protects the rights of tribes to control the activity within their borders and offer Internet gambling nationally without any impact on their existing compacts. On the other hand, some tribes with land-based gambling operations may view any expansion of gambling activity online as a threat. The reality is that online gambling is here to stay, whether it continues to expand state by state or with federal legislation. Ultimately, we expect many tribes to embrace the new reality and help advance the fair and sensible rules proposed by King that would govern their operations.
CLAIM:There’s no support for Internet gambling in the Senate.
REALITY:Not true. Public supporters of Internet gambling regulation in the Senate include Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Dean Heller (R-NV). While Senator Reid prepared a bill in the last congress with a poker only regulation approach, Senator Wyden actually proposed legislation that would use taxes collected on all forms of online gambling activity except for sports for health care purposes back in 2009.
Most Senators have not taken a public position on the issue, although Senator Reid in the past suggested that he had generated substantial support on the Democratic side, and some Republican support, although not enough to move his bill forward in last year’s Congress.
A legislative approach that would achieve uniform consumer protections, protect state interests and promote interstate online lottery activity, provide equal treatment of tribal interests and generate substantial revenues for the federal government and states all are reasons that justify broadened Senate support in the current Congress.