Rep. Joe Barton of Texas whose draft legislation wants to reclassify poker to be a game of skill, has asked Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack, a Republican from Palm Springs, to introduce the legislation from the powerful Energy and Commerce Congressional Subcommittee.
Rep. Barton hopes that the Congresswoman’s powerful position will help shift a few votes away from the political base of online poker prohibitionists. This is the first step in Rep. Barton’s plan to slowly introduce new American gambling laws which would license and regulate online poker rooms.
Mary Bono Mack is the head of Energy and Commerce subcommittee and if she decides to have a vote on Rep. Barton’s bill, it will most likely pass the crucial committee vote, which is the first step on the path to becoming law.
Reclassifying poker as a game of skill will automatically exempt it from the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). Payment processors could once again legally process deposits and payments between American poker players and both foreign and domestic online poker sites in USA.
Rep. Barton was the previous chairman of the Energy and Commerce subcommittee, of which he is still a member. He would like to see Bono Mack take jurisdiction and put the proposed bill to a vote. If the chairperson introduces a bill the chances of its passage through the subcommittee are almost guaranteed.
Her spokesman, Ken Johnson, had the following to say: “Congresswoman Bono Mack simply said she is open to the idea. That said, the congresswoman does not have plans at this time to move any legislation through her subcommittee. There are a lot of people in our district she would want to consult with first.”
American Gaming Association (AGA) is also pushing for the re-legalization of online poker payment processors. An AGA representative recently told online gambling news in United States: “A regulatory scheme for online poker can address such concerns through licensing requirements, and by requiring fair operation of sites. Various academic studies and the experience of other countries, they say, make it clear it can work.”
Barton had the following argument in support of his bill: “Poker is a uniquely American game, but it isn’t a game of chance — it is a game of skill.” It remains to be seen if American authorities will change their hostile attitude towards poker, while still allowing online horse betting and lotteries, which are purely games of chance.