For Online Poker Players in the USA, today marks the first steps on the long road to legalization. Senator Menendez (New Jersey) has introduced the Internet Poker and Games of Skill Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act.
This bill is a comprehensive clearing of the gray areas around Online Poker, mandating a rigorous licensing process based in the US (rather than off-shore), criminal and credit history checks of executive officers, a comprehensive and detailed report on financial history as well as a generalization about the company’s structure and it’s affiliates. I’m sure this is to ensure that they aren’t licencing a money laundering organization, or other unpalatable organization to handle millions of dollars in good faith, which is good news really.
It appears that this bill is looking out for the player as well! A self-exclusion policy is to be ordered (do these really work??), as well as strict age restrictions. You MUST be 21 to participate in legal online gambling, and the bill makes it very clear that the responsibility is on the games room (with strict penalties, I’m sure).
But wait, there’s more! There is no way the government would let a cash cow like this go unnoticed, and taxes are as sure as death and…..hand grenades? Maybe that’s horses. But i digress. The governments rake, ahem..cut…will be 5% of the licensee’s deposits. This will be taken every month, and any unauthorized gambling sources will be taxed by 50%. How they would be aware of such things is beyond me, but i guess they need a deterrent. The money will be added to the general coffers (not sure if they mean federal or state). A $200,000 study on pathological gambling is also set to be funded by the proceeds of this endeavour.
If this bill gets passed, i wonder if they’ll have a grace period for online poker rooms to get their licences, or if they will need to have their licence before doors can re-open (legally)? Will that 5% tax be handed directly to players? How much money would a poker room need to pay to get their licence in the first place and will this prevent the “little guy” (are there little guys in the online poker ring?) from opening up a new site, or is the wealth of new players incentive enough to pay the licensing fee?
At least the regulations being proposed seem much more reasonable than the ones Italy has implemented. United States, you have surprised me!