Developments for Legalizing Online Poker in the United States

Posted on by RTR Susannah

Despite an economic crisis continuing to command headlines across the United States, it would seem that online poker is still reaping a bit of attention, this time in the state of Massachusetts. House Bill 4591 has become quite a contentious issue for the inhabitants of Massachusetts; for some, a blessing and for others, an outrageous proposition.

The 172-page bill amendment put forward by the Massachusetts House Speaker, Robert DeLeo, calls for the sections that criminalize online poker and all other forms of Internet gambling to be struck from the bill. Where, before, any wager or bet given or received by any telecommunication device such as cell phones, Internet or telephone was punishable by two years behind bars and a $25,000 fine. With such a hefty threat looming over one’s head, it makes life pre-Internet and pre-temptation seem far more appealing, especially for those already apprehended on charges of online gambling. With the odds stacked against poker playing fans in the United States, it would seem that the news of House Bill 4591 has come as a breath of fresh air and provides a Mecca for online poker enthusiasts who wish to pursue their passion legally.

For those who support the great American pastime a big hand is deserving to State Representative Brian Dempsey who proposed the amendment in the first place and the 25,000-plus members of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) who stepped forward as a single force to push it through the various stages of approval. This mass support was lobbied through emails that were sent out calling all brothers and sisters of online poker playing and gambling to arms over the issue of banning the activity from the state. Panic-stricken, an army of over 25,000 poker-playing enthusiasts inundated their local attorneys and lawmakers with phone calls and emails.

While the Massachusetts State Senate has yet to approve the bill, PPA Kentucky State Director Rich Muny is confident that the bill will enjoy an easy passage. House Bill 4591 seems to have enough support behind it to bypass any veto by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, who opposes the bill on the grounds that it also calls for the expansion of slot machines, which do not contribute to job creation. This claim didn’t hold firm as the PPA move adamantly forward with their next project involving House Bill 4069. Proposed by State Representative Brian Wallace, this bill calls for the game of poker to be recognized as a game of skill, effectively putting it in a different category to other casino games, which are ones of chance. This could spell a far more promising future for the legalization of online poker gaming and its entire associated industry.

In the meantime, the House Bills are reaping the heat as dedicated opponents appeal for a counter movement. One such opponent, Ruth Balser, openly reduced the debate to a choice between heaven and hell, life and death and housed or homeless. It remains for the rest of the Massachusetts inhabitants, and possibly in the future, the United States, to deliver their verdict on the matter.

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