Friday, May 08, 2009

Rep. Barney Frank Gets 1 Step Closer to Legalization of Online Poker! "Govt should not interfere with people's liberty unless there's a good reason."

Representative Barney Frank certainly does not cheat his poker faithful. This week the Massachusetts representative introduced a set of bills designed to freeze the UIGEA and allow US residents freedom to play poker on the Internet. Frank's bill establishes the Department of the Treasury as the licensing and regulating authority, and provides for the consumer protections the gambling ban does not offer, including age and identification verification, responsible gaming systems, and measures against money laundering and cheating.

Alphonse D'Amato, chairman of the Poker Players Alliance, praised Frank and his efforts.

“Online poker is a legal, thriving industry and poker players deserve the consumer protections and the freedom to play that are provided for in this legislation,” said D’Amato. The ex-Senator said he promised to “activate the alliances grassroots army made up of over one million members to help him drive legislation”.

The bill grants states the right to opt out, meaning states that don't allow land-based poker do not have to accept online play. Licenses will only be awarded to operators that respect the laws of individual states, so such non-gambling states as Hawaii and Utah will likely be blocked by regulated poker rooms.

Also, players used to pocketing winnings on a regular basis without reporting them to Uncle Sam will now find their take a little lighter. Frank includes clauses that require the online gambling operator to set aside taxes against winnings before paying patrons.

Still, the legal gray cloud may be lifted if the bill can pass through Congress. Monitoring for cheating will ease the minds of many online players, and security of personal information may bring thousands of new players to the Internet.

"The government should not interfere with people's liberty unless there is a good reason," said Frank in a press conference on Capitol Hill. "This is, I believe, the single biggest example of an intrusion into the principle that people should be free to do things on the Internet. It's clearly the case that gambling is an activity that can be done offline but not online."