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Although worldwide online gambling is increasingly a legal and regulated form of entertainment that generates billions in revenue, the millions of Americans who currently play online are at risk.
When the U.S. Department of Justice released a ruling on The Wire Act last year, it opened the door to the largest expansion of legal gambling in this nation’s history. Because of that decision, states are already rapidly moving toward legalization on a one-by-one basis. As time ticks by, these states and others will begin licensing companies, and unless Congress acts now, it will happen in a fashion almost guaranteed to result in inadequate oversight and a future tangle of problems for law enforcement and U.S. consumers.
Expansion of traditional gaming is not a problem. In fact, we’ve managed to do it with brick and mortar venues in an orderly, well-regulated manner. The challenge here is that if states move in this direction online, it will lead to a state-by-state patchwork of regulations across the borderless Internet that puts gaming patrons, problem gamblers and minors at unnecessary risk. As states one-by-one begin licensing companies, they also could do so with some of the very foreign online gambling companies that have flouted U.S. laws for years. And if we end up with 50 different sets of rules and regulations for 50 states, it could result in a race to the bottom, where states attempt to have the least amount of oversight in order to attract business.
Luckily, there is a solution to this problem.
Draft legislation from Sens. Harry Reid and John Kyl accomplishes what the AGA has long supported – establishing federal minimum standards that address consumer protection, prevent underage gambling, promote responsible gaming and provide help for those with gambling problems. It also provides a regulatory structure allowing for Native American casino operators to be involved. Furthermore, it clarifies and restores federal law so that law enforcement communities have the tools necessary to prosecute illegal online gambling operators and keep them out of the U.S. market once and for all.
Importantly, this legislation would guarantee that each state can decide if it wants online poker. States should have that right, but the bill also recognizes that there is too much risk in leaving licensing to inexperienced regulators, which is why it places licensing and regulatory authority in the hands of regulators in states with the proven history of effective gaming regulation. This approach will guarantee that every state that decides to allow Internet poker will have regulatory controls that will fully protect their citizens.
Check out the links below for information on:
- The AGA’s Code of Conduct  for U.S. Licensed Online Poker Companies
- Information resources  about online poker and Internet gambling in the United States
- News  and updates on AGA activities and statements related to online poker
- Articles by AGA leaders in support of federal legislation to license and regulate online poker
- Background  on the legal status of online gambling and current updates  on proposed legislation and the AGA's position
- Watch all of our online poker videos .
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