Even though the internet poker bill that Harry Reid was shopping around Congress, the "Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection, and Strengthening UIGEA Act", has (most likely) been shelved as a Congressional agenda item for the rest of 2010, it continues to get some play in the media. One of the things that is driving me absolutely bat-shit crazy is an argument being advanced in certain quarters that regulating online poker at a federal level will take away a state's right to decide if regulated online poker should be permitted in that state.
Listen, people trying to push that argument. I know that the 10th Amendment has become the flavor of the day, but on this one particular issue you couldn't possibly be more wrong. Let me state this as clearly as I can.
The Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection, and Strengthening UIGEA Act would NOT take away a state's right to decide if regulated online poker should be permitted in that state.
In fact, the complete opposite is true. Under the Reid bill, each state makes its own choice to opt in to or out of the online poker regulatory and licensing scheme created by the bill. Period. Full stop.
If you don't believe me, read the bill yourself:
SEC. 108. PROHIBITION ON USE OF LICENSES IN CERTAIN STATES AND INDIAN LANDS.
(a) IN GENERAL. — Except as provided in section 104(b)(3), Internet poker provided by Internet poker facilities licensed under this title shall be lawful in the United States only with respect to the acceptance of bets or wagers from individuals located in States and Indian lands that have not opted out or have opted in, as the case may be, under this section.
It drives me nuts to hear people arguing that this bill creates a "federal right to gamble" and to read that states are up in arms because they would be pre-empted by this bill. It's a massive communication failure by the people that are supposed to be managing the message of this bill, largely because those people never wanted to manage the message in the first place. Instead they were hoping to slip the bill through Congress unnoticed during the lame-duck.
Guess what? The genie's out of the bottle. It's way too late for slipping things through unnoticed. If the poker industry ever wants this bill or a future variant of the bill to come off the shelf and make it into law -- and it's that or watch the industry collapse on its own through a payment processor death spiral -- it's time to start pro-actively managing the message.
Your talking points are: Job creation. Tax generation. Consumer protection. State rights. Aren't all of those things what the electorate was so angry about this past November?
Go forth and multiply.