A little more than a week into New Jersey's foray into Internet gambling, a U.S. congressman is renewing a push for federal regulation of online betting, potentially opening up Internet wagering across the country.
U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, introduced a bill in July calling for the federal government to establish a program for licensing Internet poker nationwide. On Tuesday, the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade will review the bill during a public hearing.
Barton said New Jersey's action only reinforces the need for a federal regulatory structure as regulations vary among states. On Nov. 26, New Jersey joined Delaware and Nevada as the third state to offer legal online gambling. Nevada offers online poker only, while Delaware and New Jersey offer poker and an array of slots and table games.
"Each law is different, which creates uncertainty with a complex array of regulations that could leave players at risk," Barton said. "Just like millions of other players, I enjoy the strategy and skill involved in poker. I continue to be supportive of the Americans who play online. They deserve to have a legal, on-shore system that makes sure everyone is playing in an honest, fair structure."
Also slated for discussion Tuesday is the current regulatory landscape for online gambling across the country. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a reinterpretation of the federal Wire Act of 1961, asserting that it only applied to sports betting and opening the door for states to legalize online betting.
Witnesses for the hearing have yet to be announced.
"I will continue to push for ... the Internet Poker Freedom Act because I believe the federal standards it creates protect the integrity of the game and the rights of those who play it," Barton said.
New Jersey launched online gambling to the public last week with half of Atlantic City's 12 casinos and their Internet partners approved for play on 13 websites.
To date, 54,852 online gambling accounts have been created in the state, according to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. That number includes all signups from the start of the soft launch on Nov. 21 through Dec. 2.
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