Last week, Texas Republican Congressman Joe Barton introduced his latest attempt to legalize online poker at the federal level. H.R. 2888, the Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2015, would create a set of regulations that states could adopt as their own in lieu of going through the process of creating their own.
While pro poker lobbyists are all saying the right things about this bill, there’s really nothing to get excited about in this bill. Odds are that this is the latest online poker bill that will fade away in committee and here are the reasons why.
Same Old Song and Dance
Looking at the newest attempt to legalize online poker, there’s nothing significantly new or different about this bill compared to those filed in the past. Similar bills have been filed twice before by Barton in the past and both times neither came close to a vote in Congress.
Sometimes a bill is reintroduced when there is a significant shift in attitudes towards a matter. This hasn’t happened and as such, there is little reason to believe that the bill has the support this time around to make it to a vote.
RAWA is Getting More Attention
For better or worse, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) is getting much more press and attention from Congress than any online poker bill filed in the past. Part of this is because Congressmen are forwarding Sheldon Adelson’s initiatives to repay him for his donations, but the fact is the bill is getting more attention.
The negative publicity given to online poker thanks to RAWA supporters does not help Barton’s chances to get a bill passed. Even if lawmakers are against RAWA or Adelson, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will support Barton’s bill.
Poker is Still Considered Taboo and Gambling
Despite the progress poker has made in the last decade, there is still a large segment of the population that considers online poker taboo. Others still consider online poker as straight gambling.
While we know that poker is a skillful game long-term, there are still enough elements of luck involved where the game will never be truly classified a “skill game.” The luck vs. skill argument will never win over enough lawmakers to make a difference and states that are against gambling will not support the measure.
Online Poker Doesn’t Have A Major Backer at the Federal Level
One reason why RAWA has been able to get as far as it has is because Sheldon Adelson can throw as much money as he wants at the issue. Online poker doesn’t currently have a backer that is willing to throw out that type of money at the federal level in order to sway Congressional leaders.
PokerStars is beginning to throw money at California, which is a very telling sign as to their focus. Some might argue that PokerStars is one of the only companies with the financial means to back online poker in the way that Adelson has backed RAWA. Without such a backer pushing the envelope (pun intended), some lawmakers may not ever have the motivation to support the matter.