The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade held its second hearing today to discuss internet gambling. The house held its first hearing in late October. Unfortunately for poker players, Rep. Joe Barton’s bill which would give states the right to regulate online poker was not thoroughly discussed today. Instead the hearing focused more on the issue of problem gambling. Dr. Rachel Volberg testified that the internet makes people ten times more likely to become problem gamblers than traditional gambling at a brick and mortar casino. Rep. Frank Wolf from Virginia condemned internet gaming saying that the social costs of gambling outweigh any benefits by a ratio of 3 to 1.
The news for poker players was not all bad at the hearing however. Rep. Barton made sure to point out that his bill is only in regards to regulating poker, which is a game of skill, and in no way is his bill attempting to legalize other casino games, which are games of chance. Rep. Barney Frank argued that it is not the government’s role to regulate whether adults should be able to gamble as a form of entertainment. Frank further worried about the government’s restriction of internet usage.
In the end, it appears that U.S. poker players will continue to have to just sit and wait in limbo as no vote on Barton’s bill was held or scheduled.