House Panel Hears Arguments in Favor of Legal Online Poker

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On Oct. 25, 2011, the possibility of legal online poker in the United States was aired before the House Energy and Commerce Committee subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade at a hearing entitled “Internet Gaming: Is There a Safe Bet?”

The hearing was convened to discuss the “Internet Gambling, Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection, and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2011,” introduced in June by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) This bill would legalize online poker.

Witnesses presented statistics that showed that millions of Americans participate in online gaming for money and that as much as $6 billion is sent by Americans each year to offshore gaming sites. The hearing’s tone seemed to focus on consumer protection, not on the evils of online gaming. There seemed to be agreement among all parties present at the hearing that gaming should be allowed online. Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) stated, unsurprisingly, that the committee would deliberate before acting on any legislation.

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