The bill, known as SB 3616, is the first time an Internet gambling bill has not been introduced in the House of Representatives.
The Bill outlines detailed permit requirements for the Treasury Secretary to administer – gaming websites would have to apply to the Minister for permission. The Minister is responsible for continuous monitoring to ensure that licensed sites comply with all rules and that the game remains fair to players. The bill gives states and Indian countries the right to decide whether to allow citizens access to federally regulated websites. In fact, it is returning the legalization of online gambling to the state as it was before UIGEA.
Companies applying for federal licenses will be subject to intense scrutiny, including all major owners, financial holdings and company structures. All top executives will have to pass a strict background check as well as an examination of the history of companies complying with the law in foreign countries. In addition to all taxes being reported and collected, ongoing safeguards will have to be in place to ensure the privacy and security of players.
The bill is backed by the Poker Players Union, which drafted the new bill with the senator and his aides. The grassroots poker advocacy group has over a million members and has been lobbying constantly for change for three years since UIGEA was passed. Both the chairman and executive director of the PPA issued statements supporting the bill.
“Senator Menendez’s move is yet another example of a ban on internet gambling, particularly poker, not working to protect consumers,” said former Senator Alphonse Damato, who is now president of the Poker Players Association.
“The PPA has long advocated for thoughtful and effective authorization and regulation of online poker as a means to protect vulnerable communities such as children and obsessive gamblers and to provide adequate control to prevent consumer fraud and abuse,” Damato said. “Senator Menendez’s bill is the right means to achieve those goals.”
“This is a bill that poker players will really like. The bill was written to directly help the online poker game community establish licensed and regulated poker in the United States,” said John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Association. “We believe this bill is a great marker for the next Congress and the new administration.”