The US online poker industry is in for a big change as the government is looking forward to introducing new laws and regulations in order to keep the industry in balance. The law that was brought up a few months back was kept under wraps, but finally it has come out in the open. A draft of the International Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2012 legislation has been recently released by the authorities. The law, proposed by Senators Jon Kyl and Harry Reid, needs to be passed by Congress before going to the President for approval. The new law is aimed towards prohibiting unlicensed mobile gambling and creating carve-outs for horseracing off-track betting and online poker. If this is approved, the online poker industry would be completely changed. The law would result in the establishment of the Office of Online Poker Oversight as part of the Dept. of Commerce. The OOPO would then supervise the online or mobile poker industry and keep an eye on licenses and other related matters.
The legislation, if approved, will bring major changes. It would require states to go with the majority of votes (in both local legislative chambers) in case it wants to offer off-track betting or online poker in the state. In the same way, if any individual or group in the state wishes to offer such services, it would also depend on the state’s stance in this regard. In short, if the state decides not to offer services, everyone in the state would have to do away with them. The bill would also prohibit international player pools, but the states would be allowed to continue online lottery sales. The bill looks to aim at the betting laws and reinforce the Illegal Gambling Business Act (IGBA) and other gambling apps/laws. The tax system would also be revised, with commercial online mobile poker sites operated being taxed at 16%. Out of the total 16%, the Federal Government would receive 2% and tribes and states would receive the remaining 14%. The law looks to be stringent by some, as it will outright disable those companies that have violated the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) from obtaining a license for five years. However, those companies will have the option to go to the court of law and prove that they did not violate any law in that regard. The bill that currently has 30 sponsors is said to have a 10% chance of being approved (as per govtrack.us).
Another very important part of the bill is the fact that no licenses would be operational until at least fifteen months after the enactment of the bill. It is to give an equal opportunity to all the players of the field so that no one can have a first mover’s advantage. The bill has been received with mixed reviews. It has resulted in several debates and controversies in the industry. People are waiting with bated breaths to know if the bill will be approved or disapproved by the authorities. The scenario will be cleared in the next few months (most likely during the lame duck session before November’s presidential election).
New laws introduced for US Online Poker