Subcommittee Hearing on Online Poker

By Debra SaundersGoogle

The House of Representatives Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade recently held a hearing entitled “Internet Gaming: Regulating in an Online World.”  They discussed the effectiveness of current enforcement, interstate online gambling options, consumer protection, the effects of easing restrictions on consumers and casinos, and a federal bill by Texas Republican Joe Barton. 

Frank Wolf was one of the witnesses at the hearing.  Wolf and Barton got into a heated argument about the nature of poker.  While Barton claimed that poker was a game of skill, Wolf claimed that it was like any other form of gambling.  Wolf further stressed the issue of problem gambling.  Wolf did, however, distinguish between convenience gambling and destination gambling.  He said that convenience gambling, for example online gambling, was much more dangerous and addictive.  However, when Barton pressured Wolf to say whether or not poker is a game of skill, Wolf was indecisive.  When Wolf claimed that online poker will make college kids across America go broke, panelists pointed out that millions of U.S. citizens already play online poker.

The other two witnesses at the first panel of the hearing were Barney Frank, a longtime supporter of legalized gambling, and John Campbell, a Californian Representative also known for his support; the two are cosponsoring a bill for licensing online gaming.  Frank made the point that legalized gambling provides a safe environment for gambling. 

Frank Fahrenkopf, president of the American Gaming Association, said that the AGA has not taken a position on the issue of online gambling, and that states don’t have to see any moves as unilateral.  If a state fears that online gambling will hurt the revenue flow of their lotteries or land-based casinos, they could still theoretically keep online gambling illegal in their own state laws.

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