Fighting for Online Poker in Congress

By Maria McCoyGoogle

Though there is no specific bill undergoing processes of legislation that officially legalizes online gambling, there has nonetheless been quite a lot of chatter on Capitol Hill on the subject.  That being said, it was no surprise that the prospect of legalized online gambling was a major issue at the Senate Indian Affairs Committee that met last week. 

Bruce Bozsum, the current chairman of the Mohegan Tribe from Connecticut, represented the tribal leaders who were in favor of legalizing online gaming.  He explained that there was no reason to think that online casinos would not be as successful for the Indian population as the current “brick & mortar” casinos.  He further specified that if Indian casinos are to successfully operate online platforms, the territorial restrictions need to be lifted.  The current agreement that most tribes have with the government allows for the operation of casinos in their territory.  Such an agreement would never work for online casinos.  He also requested that the Indian online casinos should enjoy the same tax exemptions as their land-based casinos.

There were, however, dissenting voices her from tribal leaders as well.  Tulalip tribe vice chairman Glen Gobin claimed that online poker would undercut the profits of the land-based casinos.  Poker Players Alliance chairman and former U.S. Senator Al D’Amato refuted that claim, citing that only 1% of total Indian casino profits actually comes from poker.  That being said, there is no reason to believe that online poker would cut into their profits.

The one thing all the tribal leaders did agree on was that they want their voice heard regarding any legislation on the future of online gambling.


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