King’s bill comes after a 2011 Justice Department ruling that the Wire Act only banned online betting on sports, a decision that led many states to move forward with legalizing Internet gambling.
It would create a uniform set of controls and protections to prevent underage and compulsive gambling. Those offering online gambling without a license would face penalties.
The legislation also includes an “opt-out” provision for any state or tribe “that does not wish to participate in the federal interstate system … and prohibit online gambling or to operate intrastate gaming within its borders as authorized under state or tribal law,” according to a statement from King’s office.
State officials and lotteries have resisted legislation that could hinder states’ authority over gambling. A similar “opt-out” measure was included in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) online poker bill last year but did not win over critics from state governments.
Several gaming interests, however, will likely support King’s bill, eager to expand a growing gambling industry online.
The American Gaming Association (AGA) backed Reid’s bill last year and supports a “federal online poker-only bill,” according to Frank Fahrenkopf, president and CEO of the trade group.
Fahrenkopf said last week that the AGA would review King’s legislation when it’s introduced to determine whether to support it.
Reid and Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) are working together again this year on an online poker bill. Lobbyists are also on the lookout to replace Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz), who partnered with Reid last year on his poker bill, with another GOP senator from outside of Nevada.
Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) is expected to introduce his own online poker legislation later this summer.