Late Friday, the influential land gambling trade body the American Gaming Association gave an important boost to Nevada Senator Harry Reid's legislative attempt to federally legalise online poker in the United States.
In a media statement explaining its move from a 'neutral' stance to one of support, the Association said that the bill includes solid oversight and consumer protections.
"Current online gambling laws do not provide these safeguards, leaving players and the system open to fraud, cheating and other illegal acts," Frank Fahrenkopf, the group's chief executive asserted.
The Associated Press news agency circulated the statement widely as extensive mainstream media coverage of the Reid bill continued.
The AGA represents the interests of America's more than 440 commercial land casinos, which account for more than half the billions in gambling revenues generated in the United States each year.
Fahrenkopf commented in the AGA statement: "This is tough law-and-order legislation that puts in place a solid regulatory framework and legal oversight that will prevent illegal activity and protect the estimated 15 million Americans who already are playing poker online.
"Ours is a unique industry in that it wants tough regulatory control and strict law enforcement oversight, which ensures the integrity of our business and protects consumers. Current online gambling laws do not provide these safeguards, leaving players and the system open to fraud, cheating and other illegal acts."
The AGA support for the Reid bill is a significant development; in the immediate past the association has taken a neutral stance on the legalisation of online gambling, respecting the often divergent views of its members
Associated Press reports that the Reid bill's provisions include a two-year period in which only existing casino companies - either commercial casinos already approved by various states or licensees approved by American Indian tribes - will be licensed to operate online. Only US-resident gamblers will be permitted to play for the first three years. It is additionally proposed that applicant sites now offering online gambling would have to shutdown their American operations within 30 days of the bill's passage or risk being barred from ever winning a license.
Reid remains staunchly against expanding the legalisation initiative to other aspects of online gambling like casino games; in a statement on Thursday last week, he said: "I still have serious concerns about legalizing the broad range of casino-type gambling through the Internet.
"The bill I am working on would make other types of Internet gambling clearly illegal, while increasing penalties and strengthening the ability of law enforcement to shut down illegal sites."
MGM Resorts International, one of Reid's strongest corporate supporters, stands to benefit from the bill's passage and could generate $100 million to $200 million annually from related earnings if it goes through, gaming analysts estimate, pointing to the group's large player database, and multiple highly recognisable brands.
The newly rebranded Harrah's Entertainment - now Caesars Entertainment Corp. - also stands to score; it owns the World Series of Poker, the world's richest and most popular series of live card tournaments which online companies support via satellite tourneys.
Source: InfoPowa News