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House panel to give online poker a chance

Oct. 19, 2011 at 4:36 PM

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- A U.S. House energy and commerce committee Wednesday scheduled a hearing next week that some see as a first step toward legalized Internet gambling.

"I am pleased that (Chairwoman Mary) Bono-Mack is holding a hearing on the important issue of Internet gaming," Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, was quoted by The Hill as saying.

Barton introduced a bill to legalize Internet poker this summer after the Obama administration shut down much of the practice and accused one site, Full Tilt Poker, of being a "massive Ponzi scheme," the Washington newspaper said.

"It's a first step to showing why the current law is a lose-lose for everyone -- the public, the taxpayer, the banking industry and the people who want to play poker openly and honestly on the Internet," Barton said.

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., has come out against the administration and is a leading supporter of Internet gambling. He was a major force behind a bill to legalize online gambling in the previous Congress and reintroduced the same measure this year with the help of Rep. John Campbell, R-Calif.

Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., chairman of the Financial Services Committee, worked to ban online gaming in 2006 and said his committee has no plans to revisit the issue, The Hill said.

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