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New US Online Gambling Lobby

By: Fabian Rictor, Thursday July 28th 2011
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The existing structures lobbying for a regulated online gambling regime in the United States have not been successful. Therefore it is not surprising that a new initiative has been announced. The initiative is a coalition of some of the existing entities lobbying for regulated online gambling. Only time will tell whether this is old wine in new bottles.

The new initiative has named itself FairPlayUSA. It describes itself as a Washington DC based advisory board, whose objective is to educate the public and policymakers alike on the need to reform federal Internet gambling laws. The three key areas that FairPlayUSA will target are strong law enforcement and strict regulation, consumer and child online protection and the rights of adults to engage in online gambling. The emphasis will be on online poker.

The board of FairPlayUSA includes some well known personalities. Parry Aftab is an American lawyer specializing in Internet privacy and security law. Tom Ridge is the former Secretary of Homeland Security and Governor of Pennsylvania. Greg Raymer is a professional poker player. Raymer is also a board member of the Poker Players' Alliance. The Executive Director of the board is Marisa McNee. In the quest for achieving its objectives FairPlayUSA intends to rope in poker players, coalition law enforcement officials, Internet consumer protection and safety advocates and others concerned with the risks of illegal online gambling. The initial funding for the launch of FairPlayUSA was provided by the land casino gambling giants Caesars and MGM. Caesars at least has been vocally advocating a federal online gambling regime as opposed to intrastate legislation that currently seems to be at the forefront.

In the first step that FairPlayUSA has taken, it has through a petition appearing on its website called on the Congress to address the problems associated with offshore online gambling, give law enforcement the tools to crack down on illegal sites and establish a strict regulatory framework for online gambling to ensure its integrity and safety. Marisa McNee commented, "The website and online petition will be the focal point for recruiting and organizing supporters who will actively engage and make their voices heard by members of Congress. Outreach will be directed toward law enforcement officials, those who support Internet consumer safety, and online poker's strongest asset the millions of Americans who enjoy online poker." Proponents of legalized online gambling can sign the petition online.

There are a number of bills in process towards establishing a regulated online gambling regime. FairPlayUSA does not support any specific proposed legislation, but lays the principles on which the legislation should be based. Apart from the usual these include an unambiguous definition of what will constitute illegal online gambling, the states and tribes be given the right to prohibit online gambling and that the players' deposits be maintained in an escrow account.

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