Last year, when the American Department of Justice announced that running online gambling websites is not technically illegal, federal lawmakers jumped at the chance to pass online poker legislation. While plenty of states have attempted to launch their own online gambling websites (and a few have been successful), federal lawmakers are still committed to legalizing the activity nation-wide. Rep. Joe Barton of Texas has sponsored a bill that would legalize online poker. It allow for the Department of Commerce to oversee the licensing online gambling websites, giving the federal government a huge say in how the online poker market is run in America. Another politician has drafted a different bill which would give the Secretary of the Treasury the responsibility of licensing online gambling operators in the country.
While many states are in the process of regulating their own online gambling markets, Barton does not believe that is the best way forward for online gambling in America. As is the case with the European Union, the United States runs the risk of having a fragmented online gambling market, with each state passing its own laws. “”If Congress doesn’t act soon we could end up with fractured rules and regulations that vary state to state,” says Barton. “The more the states continue to move forward with this, the harder it will be for the federal government to step in”. So, it is important that the federal government acts quickly on the issue; however, there are no signs that Barton’s bill – or any other online gambling bill – will be passed. But, he is very confident that online gambling will be legislated by the end of the year. Politicians are still in the process of generating support for the legislation and are hopeful that the government will finally warm up to the idea.