Sample Senator response to Poker's Black Friday

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Thank you for your message regarding the legalization of online poker. I appreciate hearing from you on this issue.

The debate over Internet gambling has generated strong public interest. While most types of Internet gambling are prohibited under federal law, many sites are based in foreign countries and have fallen outside the jurisdiction of American enforcement agencies. Because of the largely unregulated nature of this business, however, sites often fail to block access to children and lack effective safeguards against fraud. Internet gambling can be addictive, and this addiction has hurt many people and their families.

Prior to the adjournment of the 111th Congress, Majority Leader Harry Reid proposed draft legislation that would loosen current restrictions on online gaming put forth in the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. Current federal law prohibits the flow of revenue, including checks, credit card charges, and electronic transfers to Internet gambling businesses. Senator Reid's proposed legislation, however, would allow such transactions to online poker sites that are operated by existing casinos, horse tracks, and slot machine makers.

Senator Reid's proposal was similar to other legislation that was also introduced in the 111th Congress. In July, the w:House Financial Services Committee\House Financial Services Committee reported The Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act (H.R. 2267), which would allow licensed Internet gaming operators to accept wagers from individuals within the United States. The bill also would institute safeguards against fraud and underage use, as well as ensure the collection of taxes on gamblers and licensees.

Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey also introduced the Internet Poker and Game of Skill Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act of 2009 (S. 1597), which would institute the same provisions as the House bill, however would limit all online gambling to games whose outcome are determined by a player's skill, such as poker, chess, or bridge.

Neither the House nor Senate bill, nor Senator Reid's proposal passed in the 111th Congress. However, I will keep your thoughts in mind as the Senate considers online gaming legislation in the 112th Congress.

Thank you again for contacting me. Please feel free to keep in touch.


Richard J. Durbin

United States Senator