On Thursday, another pro-online poker bill was introduced in the United States. This time, Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX, pictured) unveiled HR 2666, the Internet Poker Freedom Act. As its name implies, it’s a bill that’s designed to regulate and legalize online poker only in the United States. You can read HR 2666 here. You might recall that Congressman Peter King (R-NY) recently introduced a separate internet gambling bill in the U.S.

Reaction came in from all sides, including the Poker Players Alliance, whose Executive Director, John Pappas, told PocketFives on Thursday night, “We applaud the introduction of Mr. Barton’s common-sense bill. While millions of Americans have been waiting for over two years for the return of online poker, the game’s popularity has certainly not waned. Thankfully, Mr. Barton understands this and knows that the only logical way to guarantee players and all consumers are protected online is to take action and license and regulate the industry.”

Pappas continued extolling Barton’s participation in the online poker campaign, saying, “The poker community is thrilled to have his longstanding support, not just as a politician, but as a fellow poker player who is passionate about America’s greatest card game. This bill was drafted specifically to appeal to the widest array of legislators possible and has the PPA’s full support. We look forward to working with Congressman Barton as this bill moves forward in the House of Representatives.”

One hot topic about the bill that has come up is its prohibition on the use of credit cards, which took center stage in a 2010 House Financial Services Committee hearing involving the mark-up of a similar bill from now retired Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA).

To that end, the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Association (SSIGI) questioned, “Credit card use is encouraged by regulators in other countries because they offer far greater consumer protections than other payment vehicles. It is completely foolish and a mistake to prohibit their use. There’s no way rules can be developed to stop people from finding a way to use funds from their credit cards to gamble online. It’ll just make the transaction and transfer of money a lot less transparent.”

The SSIGI also went after the bill’s poker-only focus, saying, “The top motivation for legislators to focus on this issue is to protect consumers, which is why the House Financial Services Committee overwhelmingly approved legislation years ago that allowed all forms of internet gambling activity. There’s no logic behind the argument that it should be permissible for Americans to play poker and bet on horses online, but can’t play bingo online as well.”

Barton’s bill addresses so-called “bad actors,” with language targeting anyone who has been “convicted of accepting bets or wagers from any other person through an internet poker facility in felony violation of Federal or State law.” Such “bad actors” are shut out of the market for five years. Also, any company that purchases the assets of a “bad actor” is subject to the same five-year blackout.

We’ll keep you posted on the latest poker legislation news right here on PocketFives.

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