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Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) introduced the Skill Game Protection Act today, a measure that would allow Americans to gamble in online skill games like poker, Mah-jong, backgammon, chess and bridge.
The announcement comes one day before Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, will hold a hearing to debate the merits of his Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act (IGREA).
Wexler's legislation looks to amend the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), allowing American skill game players to chance to gamble in matches against one another. The SGPA does not exempt players looking to gamble against an online casino, or any operator of games of chance.
"Poker is a game, not a crime," Wexler said in a release. "Millions of Americans enjoy competing with each other in games of skill on the Internet. We should protect the freedom of law-abiding adults to participate in these great American pastimes."
Wexler introduces the bill by stating that Americans enjoy competing for money in these games and in some instances, like poker, these games represent a person's primary source of income. Additionally, Wexler argues that although these games contain an element of chance, a player's overall success is dependent on their skill level. This makes the "distinct from games of chance."
Wexler also states that the government must take steps to ensure that minors are prevented from gambling online, person with compulsive behavior should be identified and treated, operators of these real-money skill games should not be vulnerable or involve in money laundering or illegal activities, that taxes are collected and that person from states that have banned online gambling be excluded from the act.
The Poker Player's Alliance, a lobbyist group in Washington D.C., said Wexler's bill "clarifies existing law and provides rightful protections for poker and other games of skill under both the UIGEA and the WIRE Act of 1961."
"Congressman Wexler's bill is a positive development for the millions of American poker players who enjoy one of our nation's great pastimes," said former Senator Alfonse D'Amato, PPA Chairman of the Board. "Poker and other games of skill have fallen victim to bad public policy. Wexler's plan will give skill games the rightful protection they deserve and it will require the proper safeguards to protect children and those prone to abuse."
This bill is the third in a series of legislative attempts aimed at amending the UIGEA or to taking a look at other options.Frank's IGREA calls for regulation and licensing of online gambling in the U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkeley (D-Nev.) also introduced a measure earlier this spring that calls for a one-year study of the effects of regulating online gambling in the U.S. market.
All three legislative efforts are expected to be topics of discussions during tomorrow's House Financial Services Committee hearing.
Wexler is a member of the House Financial Services committee.
Wexler introduces skill game "carve out" legislation is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.