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Senate Indian Affairs Committee Chair Drafts Online Gaming Bill[ return to main articles page ]

By: Dan Cypra    [See all articles by Dan Cypra]
Published on Jul 27th, 2012
On Thursday, it was publicly revealed that Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Chairman Daniel Akaka (D-HI, pictured) had drafted a bill focusing on regulating Tribal internet gaming in the United States. You can watch the hearing in its entirety by clicking here.

In a hearing concerning internet gambling and its effects on Tribes held on Thursday on Capitol Hill, the Chairman prefaced, "This bill is intended to further the dialogue with Tribes... I encourage all of you to review the bill and provide comments. In any expansion of gaming, we must make sure that the unique circumstances surrounding Tribal sovereignty are maintained in any legislation. We must also allow Tribes to participate fully."

PocketFives reached out to Poker Players Alliance (PPA) Executive Director John Pappas, who assessed the bill's impact: "The draft legislation is solely focused on Tribal licensing of internet poker. It is an important benchmark for Tribal interests and the PPA strongly believes Tribes should be part of the future competitive internet poker marketplace. But, since it is not a holistic approach and does not contemplate other potential licensees, it is more for discussion rather than a realistic legislative vehicle."

A portion of Thursday's hearing was devoted to reminding those in attendance and those watching at home on a live stream how vital Tribal gaming is to Indian communities. Speaking to that, and driving the point home throughout the hearing, was former "Saturday Night Live" cast member and current Senator Al Franken (D-MN).

Franken opened by saying, "Gaming has been an incredibly powerful economic tool for Tribes. Gaming enterprises have brought much needed revenue and jobs to Indian Country... It is a tool that if used well can make a huge difference. It's something worth protecting. Any changes to current gaming law must take into account the special place Tribes hold in the gaming industry."

After National Indian Gaming Commission Chair Tracie Stevens told the assembled committee about the inner workings of her government organization, Mohegan Tribe Chair Bruce Bozsum (pictured) advocated a Federal solution to internet gaming: "Internet gaming is a reality in today's digital world. Our Tribe is doing everything to prepare for it... In the wake of the game-changing DOJ opinion [that the Wire Act only applies to sports betting], Federal regulators and Tribes should work together to create a Federal policy."

Bozsum called a possible state-by-state approach to online gambling "chaotic" and added that it would not be good "for protecting consumers or underage or problem gamblers... I believe a patchwork system will let too many minors and problem gamblers fall through the cracks."

Also testifying as a witness during Thursday's Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing was Glen Gobin, Secretary of the Tulalip Tribe. Gobin testified against internet gambling legalization in a previous Senate hearing, but seemed more amenable this time around.

Gobin told the crowd, "This new DOJ opinion clearly allows states to participate in internet gambling within their states... Tribes have the ability to participate in this same activity even though some would argue that Tribal gaming is not fully defined... Tribes must be at the table to protect and promote these principles in any Federal legislation that might come forward."

In a thread on PocketFives, PPA Vice President of Player Relations Rich TheEngineer Muny (pictured) posted his thoughts throughout the hearing. Muny said of former Congressman Jon Porter, who testified as part of the third and final panel of the day, "Fmr. Rep Jon Porter tells the Committee how poker is different from house-banked, casino-style games of chance. Nice!"

Muny concluded by giving his take on the day's events: "I think the hearing went well for the poker community. Poker is clearly on the front burner now!"

In the background of the ongoing discussion of internet gambling in Washington, D.C. is the looming general election, which takes place in November. The entire House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate will be up for election, meaning that internet gambling is likely to take a back seat until the so-called "lame duck" session in the closing weeks of the year.


  1. Seems to me that if and when the US legalizes online poker we're going to have too many sites and not enough players. Look at the lack of traffic for the sites below Stars and Tilt. Now we're going to have the Vegas casinos, Indian casinos and possibly sites from other states.
  2. "With real Vegas-style gambling, like my ancestors intended?"
  3. “Now if we do wana live the thugs life and the gangster life and all that, okay, so stop being cowards and let’s have a revolution. But we don’t wana do that, dudes just wana live a character, they wana be cartoons. But if they really wanted to do something, if they was that tough, alright let’s start our own country, let’s start a revolution, let’s get out of here, let’s do something. But they don’t wana do that, they wana pimp our communities and portray this image that they know we all can’t survive…”
    Originally Posted by DeaconMike View Post

    Seems to me that if and when the US legalizes online poker we're going to have too many sites and not enough players. Look at the lack of traffic for the sites below Stars and Tilt. Now we're going to have the Vegas casinos, Indian casinos and possibly sites from other states.

    I sent an email to the Senate explaining this obvious fact to the dullards in Congress.

    I also took the liberty to telling them that any solution that blocks PokerStars from serving the US would be unacceptable to most poker players.
  5. Welcome to Little Eagle Online Casino! Now: 32 Players on 5 tables.
  6. Protecting Indian tribes in the state of Washington led their corrupt government to have the audacity to enact a law making PLAYING internet poker a felony (in the same class as rape). I'm pretty sure they don't have that kind of influence on the Federal level, but just the fact that they get a Federal hearing means they have enough influence to concern us all.

    This is sadly how business is done in America. Any new business idea and product that takes off, usually due to new technology and companies vision to maximize it, is quickly brought down by government who then through "public safety" and "regulation" redistribute the rights to a selective few powerful companies and interests through "exclusivity" and "licensing".

    It's funny when the jackals start fighting themselves. State lotteries are rip-off artists who make it a criminal offense to offer better games for the consumer. Now, they see the $$$ potential of online lottery sales, and the retailers (who get 6%) are up in arms to protect their soon to be obsolete interests, and the unions (who control lottery employee salaries and pensions) are fighting to keep soon to be obsolete jobs.

    Man, I thirst for a true free market. What great things we could have at our disposal. But as long as the public is made up primarily of lambs who prefer to be "safe" than free, we will always be subjected to serfdom.
  7. I don't get it!!! I'm from a tribe, and there are a few state owned Casino, now the Sturgis Rally will be going on, and they just upped the limit from MAX BET in South Dakota was $100, now its $1,000, they can change things that quick, and if the UIGEA Bill only applies to Sports Betting, and the WIRE ACT, Then why can't POKERSTARS COMEBACK? See the government just want what will line the pocket of those who make the laws and represent them, stupid as all hell, and this countries motto is " A FREE COUNTRY" yea and I thought this hotels WIFI was free, but come to realize, DUH i'm paying for the hotel room IMO, bs soon i'm going to just move across the border, to canada!!!!
    Originally Posted by DeaconMike View Post

    Seems to me that if and when the US legalizes online poker we're going to have too many sites and not enough players. Look at the lack of traffic for the sites below Stars and Tilt. Now we're going to have the Vegas casinos, Indian casinos and possibly sites from other states.

    Assuming that all (or most) states allow people to access the same sites, this might be an issue for a little while (a year or two) but the cream will rise to the top. Anyone can open a retail store, yet most of us have a Walmart and a Target close by. Back in the pre black Friday days, a lot of sites had the opportunity, Tilt and Stars rode to the top.

    If we get the legislation correct, I don't care how many sites there are starting. Let there be 200 of them if that's what this takes. The right number will shake out eventually.
  9. How about introducing this Bill to the Gov't...."either legalize poker in the USA within 30 days or give us our land back......listen, begging on you hands and knees will get you nowhere, the Gov't will continue to laugh at you like they did when they stole your land a few years ago!!!!!!!......
  10. How did this go? Any good news?
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