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Republican proposes legalizing online poker

Republican proposes legalizing online poker
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New legislation introduced by a House Republican would pave the way for legal online poker.

The Internet Poker Freedom Act, introduced Thursday by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), would empower the federal government to license and regulate gambling websites that offer the game.

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The bill comes in contrast to new Senate GOP legislation that would prohibit online gambling, setting the stage for a Republican battle over Internet betting.

"Poker is an all-American game,” Barton said in a statement. "It’s a game that I learned as a teen and continue to play today. Just like millions of other players I enjoy the strategy and skill involved.”

Barton’s legislation comes as two GOP presidential candidates are looking to roll back online gambling.

The Restoration of America’s Wire Act, introduced earlier in the week by Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Memo: Saudi storm darkens for Trump Trump changes tone on Saudi Arabia amid mounting pressure Trump rebukes Saudis, but also gives them more time MORE (R-S.C.) — and backed by Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioThe Memo: Saudi storm darkens for Trump GOP leaders hesitant to challenge Trump on Saudi Arabia On The Money: Treasury official charged with leaking info on ex-Trump advisers | Trump to seek 5 percent budget cut from Cabinet members | Mnuchin to decide by Thursday on attending Saudi conference MORE (R-Fla.) — would crack down on Internet gambling.

At issue is a Department of Justice policy that permits most forms of online gambling other than sports betting.

The Wire Act was used to prohibit all forms of online gambling until 2011, when the Justice Department said it would only apply the policy to sports betting.

Graham’s legislation would turn back the clock and clarify that all forms of online gambling are illegal. Opponents of online gambling say it gives children and heavy gamblers easier access to betting.

Barton’s bill seeks to protect online poker. The legislation would set in place technology intended to root out underage and addicted gamblers. The co-sponsors include Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) and Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.).

However, it would leave the door open for other people to gamble online.