Online Poker Finds New Supporter on the Hill

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Legalization of online poker has found a new and unlikely supporter on Capitol Hill. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), an outspoken conservative, has announced that he will support legalization and is planning some parliamentary maneuvers to try to get it to the House floor eventually.

It turns out that in addition to being a conservative, Rep. Barton is also an avid poker player, and his interest in the game is one factor that impelled him to back legalization, according to the Las Vegas Sun.

On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has long supported legalization, but the new partnership with Rep. Barton, who is the chairman emeritus of the Energy and Commerce Committee, will strengthen the chances for a bill to pass.

Some legislators in both houses are continuing their efforts to pass a major revision to the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which has been interpreted to prohibit online poker as a practical matter. The fact that Rep. Barton is chairman emeritus of a committee with jurisdiction over the bill may prove critical. Rep. Barton told that he had spoken with House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), about moving a bill through the committee.

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