Poker Pros Bet Big on Lobbying Congress

BY RUSSELL BERMAN – Staff Reporter of the Sun
October 23, 2007

WASHINGTON — Coming off a resounding defeat in Congress a year ago, the country’s top poker players are trying their hand at a time-honored Washington parlor game: lobbying.

Nearly 100 leading card players are flying into the nation’s capital this week to urge lawmakers to roll back a ban on Internet gambling. They are led by Senator D’Amato, the New York lawmaker turned lobbyist who serves as chairman of the Poker Players Alliance.

The group is pushing a bill that would legalize and regulate online gambling through the federal government, effectively reversing a law that President Bush signed last year making it illegal for American banks and credit card companies to process online bets.

…Mr. Frank’s bill, introduced earlier this year, would create a licensing system to regulate Internet betting through the Treasury Department. The proposals would mandate that Web sites implement safeguards against underage and compulsive gambling, such as identification requirements and limits on the amount and frequency of wagers. The government would also take a cut of the winnings under the bill through a tax that could provide a possible annual revenue stream of more than $3 billion to the federal coffers, according to an estimate cited by the Poker Players Alliance.

There is no estimate, however, on how much it would cost to administer and enforce the new regulations. The alliance also is supporting a narrower proposal by Rep. Robert Wexler, a Democrat of Florida, that would classify poker, chess, bridge, and mah jong as “skill games” and exempt them from the gambling ban.

The American Gaming Association, the lobbying arm of casinos, has taken no position on the proposals, nor has the National Council on Problem Gambling. The council’s executive director, Keith Whyte, said none of the bills, including the one enacted last year, devote any money to combating gambling addition. “It was a bill that dodged all the major issues,” he said of the ban.

Here is the full article.

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