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house Bill H.R. 2666

Regulating Online Poker

Argument in favor

People who want to play Internet poker will find a way to gamble whether it's illegal or not. This will at least allow the government to regulate the industry and protect players.

Argument opposed

The government should not be in the business of enabling gamblers. This bill needs stronger safeguards to prevent problem gambling, addiction, and money laundering.

What is House Bill H.R. 2666?

H.R. 2666 would create a "qualified regulatory authority" to issue licenses for online poker operations. Without that license, it would be illegal to run an online poker site.

The “qualified regulatory authority” is defined in this bill as:

  • A state agency or regulatory body qualified by the Secretary of Commerce (if the applicant is a state), or the National Indian Gaming Commission (if the applicant is a federally recognized Indian tribe), that has met minimum standards set by the Secretary and Commission.

  • The regulatory authority of an Indian tribe authorized to game under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

  • The Office of Internet Poker Oversight that would be established by the Department of Commerce.

Allows a licensee to accept an Internet poker bet or wager from U.S.-located individuals and offer related services as long as their license is in good standing.

Initial licenses have a five-year life, and thereafter would be subject to renewal and transfer requirements.

This bill establishes civil monetary penalties and authorizes qualified regulatory authorities to discipline poker sites that do not follow regualtions. 

H.R. 2666 would establish programs to identify, prevent, and treat pathological and problem gambling. Poker sites would be required to track data on player behavior and share it with the public (after removing personally identifying information).

Licensed poker sites would be prohibited from using credit cards for Internet gambling, or accepting bets on games / events / activities that are outside the realm of Internet poker.

Punishment in the form of a fine, imprisonment up to three years, or both for certain rules of play violations. Such violations would include using tools, electronic devices, or software to obtain an unfair advantage or defraud a licensee or persons placing bets with that licensee.


The Internet poker playing community, poker enterprises, federally recognized Tribes, states, and the Secretary of the Treasury.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 2666

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In Depth:

Under H.R. 2666, the qualified regulatory authorities would be mandated to:

  • Maintain a list of people who are self-excluded from playing Internet poker through licensed facilities, collecting winnings, or recovering losses.

  • Submit a current copy of this list on a weekly basis to the Secretary of Commerce who will maintain a master list.

  • All licensees would be required to implement a gambling addiction, responsible gaming, and self exclusion program in order to obtain their license.

The Director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network would be required to investigate unlicensed Internet gambling businesses and provide the Secretary of the Treasury with a list of such businesses every 60 days.

In April 2011, the FBI and Justice Department
shut down several popular internet poker websites, accusing owners of allowing illegal gambling. The FBI was attempting to recover $3 billion in tax revenue from the companies.

Three states — New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware — have decided to regulate online gambling, and another ten states are considering following suit. The online gambling industry has brought in as much as $35 billion globally in a year, while the U.S. tribal and commercial gambling industry made over $66 billion in 2013.


Status Update from House Committee on Energy & Commerce


The Hill

Star-Tribune (In Favor)

Wall Street Journal (Context)

(Photo Credit: JohnSeb)


Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2013

Official Title

To establish a program for the licensing of Internet poker by States and federally recognized Indian tribes, and for other purposes.

bill Progress

  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Financial Services
      Committee on Energy and Commerce
      Consumer Protection and Commerce
    IntroducedJuly 11th, 2013