Is A Federal Online Gambling Law On The Way?

Will 2013 be the year that online poker becomes legal across the U.S.?

Gambling is — and always has been — an oft-discussed legal issue in the United States. When the Internet came along, questions surrounding the online gambling arose. And now, with states starting to pass their own online gambling statutes, things may become even more complicated. For example, Arizona’s gambling laws are such that residents are often prohibited in taking part in nation-wide, online fantasy sports leagues, but Delaware just passed a law that essentially makes online gambling legal. In an effort to standardize legislation, we could see a federal online gambling law in the near future.

Senators Harry Reid of Nevada and Senator John Kyl of Arizona have been drafting an online gambling bill, and according to various industry publications, the two have finally agreed on terms. Word on the street is that Kyl sees this bill as important to his “legacy” – and as such agreed to a poker compromise.

So the question now remains: when will we get to see a draft version of this bill? Unfortunately, it probably won’t be for awhile. With the election around the corner, neither party wants to wake a sleeping dragon. As such, don’t expect to see anything having to do with online gambling on a national level until 2013.

The contents of the draft have yet to be released, but that hasn’t stopped pundits from pontificating as to whether or not a national online gambling act – developed by Reid and Kyl – would actually pass. Common sentiment is that the bill will easily pass in the House, but will dead-lock in the Senate. Why? As Texas representative Joe Barton explained, “neither party is going to put this up if it’s going to be a dogfight. It will only be put up if people are willing to vote for it.”

The common assumption is that the Reid-Kyl bill will contain exemptions for poker, similar to the provisions for online fantasy sports in the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006.

News of a potential federal online gambling law comes in the wake of Delaware legalizing online gambling. Since the draft has not been made public, it is too soon to tell whether or not the Reid-Kyl bill will in any way affect Delaware’s new statute.

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