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Senator Menendez Introduces Bill to Regulate Online Poker

Bill Would Tax Poker Sites and Establish 21 as the Minimum Age to Play

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The poker debate continues to heat up in Washington as Senator Menendez introduces a new bill.Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced a bill in the Senate on Thursday that seeks to regulate and tax online poker in the United States.

The bill would garner both federal and local revenue, while instituting consumer protection safeguards and age-verification procedures to ensure that citizens under the age of 21 are not able to participate.

The Poker Players Alliance applauded the introduction of the bill in a statement released earlier today.

“The PPA is pleased that Senator Menendez chose to introduce his bill to license and regulate Internet poker and include additional consumer protections,” said Alfonse D’Amato, the PPA chairman and former New York senator. “His continued support for protecting the Internet freedoms of poker players specifically, and Americans generally, is greatly appreciated.”

The 91-page bill, entitled the “Internet Poker and Games of Skill Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act of 2009,” is much more specific than the poker bills that Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) introduced in the House of Representatives earlier this year.

While Frank’s bill applies to online casinos, lotteries, and bingo, Menendez’s proposed legislation only deals with games of skill, such as poker. Both bills continue to explicitly prohibit sports betting.

It is common procedure on Capitol Hill to introduce companion bills in both the House and the Senate to speed up discussion on an issue.

One of the most noteworthy aspects of the Menendez bill is that it specifically defines just how much of a cut the government would get from the poker industry. Each approved and licensed poker site would be responsible to pay a monthly tax equal to 10 percent of all of its American players’ deposits — 5 percent of which is allotted to the federal government, and 5 percent of which is allotted locally (either to the corresponding state or Indian territory).

In the bill, Menendez says that the government has a responsibility to regulate online poker “to prevent underage wagering and otherwise to protect vulnerable individuals; to ensure that games are fair; to address the concerns of law enforcement; and to enforce limitations on the activity established by the States and Indian tribes.”

He also briefly touches upon the historical nature of poker in this country — referencing that presidents and statesmen alike have played the game — and identifying poker as a game of skill, similar to games like “chess, bridge, mah-jong, [and] backgammon.”

While the bill would explicitly legalize online poker, it does outline how specific states and territories can opt out of the bill’s provisions. A governor of a state — as opposed to a state legislature — can choose to opt out of the bill as long as he or she “informs the Secretary [of the Treasury] of such limitation before the end of the 90-day period beginning on the date of the enactment of the [bill].”

The Menendez bill would also establish a self-exclusion list that people can voluntarily put themselves on, “acknowledging in a manner to be established the Secretary that the person wishes to be denied gaming privileges and agreeing that, during any period of voluntary exclusion, the person may not collect any winnings or recover any losses resulting from any gaming activity at any licensee site.”

The bill allocates funds for a national campaign on problem gambling, as well as research on the topic, and indicates that poker sites may be responsible for promoting the self-exclusion list on their own sites. However, the bill makes it clear that neither the government nor the poker sites are “liable to any self-excluded person … for any harm, monetary or otherwise,” even if a person on the list is inadvertently given gaming privileges.

Applicants for a license to operate what the bill refers to as “an Internet game-of-skill facility” will be responsible for providing to the Secretary of the Treasury “complete financial information about the applicant; documentation, showing the corporate structure of the applicant and all related business and affiliates; the criminal and credit history of the applicant, each of the senior executives and directors of the applicant, and any other person who is in control of the applicant.”

This information will not be made available to the public “in light of business competition, competition, confidentiality, and privacy concerns.”

Licenses have a five-year term, but can be revoked by the Secretary if the licensee fails to comply with certain provisions — such as ensuring the age and location of its players, collecting and reporting both its own and customer taxes, safeguarding against financial crimes and compulsive play, and failing to protect the privacy and security of its customers.

The entire bill can be read on the Poker Players Alliance website.

 
 
 
 

Comments

cubbydwp
8 years ago

WAIT 6 MORE MONTHS PLEASE!!! THATS WHEN I TURN 21.

 
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pikachucards
8 years ago

Best possible outcome besides how it was pre-UIGEA, and we know that's not coming back, so this is the best thing we can get. People who know good bankroll management (won't have to deposit) will be celebrating everywhere when this passes.

 
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keeentd
8 years ago

Yeah, things were so much better in the past when the web sites themselves could steal millions from the players and because there was no legislation could not be prosecuted. Online poker is still full of theives and cheaters, the software is rigged for action no matter what the sit owners say, and collusion between players is everywhere. No legislation is going to fix that. Play at your own risk, legislation or not...

 
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Chzzzz
8 years ago

Government involvement in ANY enterprise is usually bad.

 
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Tex97239
8 years ago

keeentd is absolutely right.

This is the best news to come down the line for some time. I just hope they plan to regulate the sites and have a plan for authenticating the integrity of their games. Between the programmed "hot" decks, the collusion and chicanery, the last thing bumpeck needs to worry about is the effect rake and income taxes on his profitability.

Every other form of gambling winnings is taxed and the games heavily regulated (unless you are booking your bets through a mobster); there is no reason on earth why online poker should be any different.

These guys are making millions and in some cases billions off of a business which is not subject to oversight of any kind except by a handful of incompetent "tribal gaming commissions".....whatever that means? They could be robbing you blind with software that is designed to ensure the house wins all the time; for all you know half the seats at the average table (and all of the winning ones) could be computerized "house seats" just sitting there raking in your hard earned money and there is nothing you can do about it; nor is it even illegal.

 
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Tex97239
8 years ago

That's GREAT 10% per month of all player's deposits. That ought to shut her down pretty damned quick. LMFAO!

I can hardly wait!

 
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f1v3h34d
8 years ago

yea i'm confused about the 10% per month of the 'Deposit' part. Does that mean if you were to make a 100 dollar deposit, $10 would be taken the first month and assuming you still had a bank roll.... $9 would be taken the next?

But then as someone mentioned before, if you already have a bankroll, nothing will be taken at all?

 
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pikachucards
8 years ago

People that whine about the integrity of the games are sore losers.

And as far as the gov't not being able to run anything - you're just paranoid, the gov't runs the military pretty well, pretty sure it can handle online poker.

 
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Uncle_Harvey
8 years ago

How about the government pass a law outlawing cheating by players or sites. They can then punish anyone engaged in such activity and the sites can regulate themselves. But no.... The government has to get its cut on everything. There is always another tax and the tax always goes up over time. In a few years maybe the government can just take over the poker sites and run them along with GM, Citibank and your family doctor. Anyone that believes in freedom will oppose this.

 
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dc_
8 years ago

"The Poker Players Alliance applauded the introduction of the bill in a statement released earlier today."

No caution? Applause? No statement of concern? This PPA could be leading us poker players right into the clutches of an overgrown government and they'll celebrate every step of the way.

The PPA should work to get the UIGEA repealed (then disband itself), not to regulate poker with taxation leading to a corporate advantage for US companies such as harrah's or any other big player. This makes me wonder which corrupt lobby group is really pushing this, I'm betting its Las Vegas based companies and the PPA is just deluding itself into thinking its making a difference.

Not to mention this type of regulation opening up American corporations is going to severely harm pokerstars and full tilt. But this might be the plan anyway. Domination of an industry.

I think things are fine as they are now, but was even better before the UIGEA. I'm just saying be careful what we wish for. And no need to fix what isn't broke.

This isn't a marijuana debate, which needs to be regulated since the other result is jail. Poker isn't going to get you in jail, no need to regulate. This should be a state issue only, never federal.

 
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hitking14
8 years ago

We do have 1 ruler overall, his name is Obama and he rules all, car companies, banks,healthcare,whatever he wants he rules because people are too f***ing stupid to put up an resistance to his reign of terror. I cant wait for this clown to finally come out and say he's the king of everything and ruler of all and watch all the a s s kissers bend over to this jerkoff

 
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