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Poker lobby protests proposed ban on online casinos

As the congressional field hearing in Iowa designed to ramp up support for federal legislation restricting online casinos approaches, the poker lobby renewed its assault on the ban on online casinos approach taken by the politicians in the United States.

Poker Players Alliance President Michael Bolcerek decried the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act , which passed the U.S. House of Representatives in early July, as "short-sighted" and said it would only breed "unregulated online 'speak easys'" that do nothing to curb the underage and problem gambling targeted by the bill's sponsors. The bill will target online casinos and the profitable online casinos industry is reeling from the news. The future of online casinos is up in the air, and the lobby efforts aim to protect online casinos from this legislation are underway.

"A more sensible approach is to license, regulate and tax this skill game here in the United States, much like we already do with 'brick and mortar' casinos and card rooms," Bolcerek said in a statement released Wednesday by the pro online casinos group, which describes itself as a grassroots organization representing 100,000 online casinos players and online casinos enthusiasts.

A PPA-commissioned study (click for PDF) estimates that Uncle Sam could rake in at least $3.3 billion per year from income taxes and fees tied to a regulated online casinos regime. 23 million Americans already play poker on the Internet at online casinos, according to the lobby group.
Various incarnations of online casinos gambling restrictions have been bouncing around Congress for years amid international skepticism about the online casinos subject.

The House-approved bill would clarify that federal law prohibits processing financial transactions related to "unlawful" online casinos and would in some cases force Internet service providers to block access to offshore gambling sites. Democrats, a large number of whom voted against the measure, have criticized the approach as riddled with loopholes because it exempts wagers on horse races and lotteries.

The field hearing--a favorite practice of politicians during lengthy recesses away from the nation's capital--is scheduled to take place Thursday afternoon in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the home state of Rep. Jim Leach, a Republican congressman who co-sponsored the bill with Republican Bob Goodlatte of Virginia. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who has endorsed the bill and exercises much control over when it would go before the Senate, is also on the planned attendance list.
It's unclear when the Senate will begin debating Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, labeled part of the Republicans' election-year "American Values" agenda, as it's just one of many proposals potentially on the agenda before the politicians return to campaigning. Congress is scheduled to return to Washington D.C. on Sept. 5 and is expected to break again by early October
Whatever the final outcome of all of these talks and bills in the United States, it remains clear that the net gambling industry is very profitable and the business side is booming, despite political reservations.

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