Alfonse D'Amato, the Chairman of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) has made an announcement that is music to the ears of online poker players. D’Amato says he expects online poker to be legal in the US by the year 2009.
Former Senator D’Amato was a member of a keynote discussion panel at the recent Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas. The topic was, State of the Industry: Internet Gambling at the Crossroads. Other panelists taking part were: The Honorable Shelley Berkley, U.S. House of Representatives (D-NV), J. Terrence Lanni, chairman and CEO of MGM MIRAGE, Gary Loveman, president, CEO and chairman of Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc., and Andre Wilsenach, CEO of Alderney Gambling Control Commission.
According to G2E, the focus of the panel’s discussion was, “Internet gaming is caught between a rock and a hard place. Approved in some countries and banned in others, how are players to determine what's legal and what's not? What are the regulatory challenges of this unique new industry, and who should the regulators be? With technological advances from player identification to cash transfers on the rise, could this segment someday overtake the entire industry? This session will bring together policymakers and key stakeholders of the online and mainline gaming worlds to discuss these and other topics critical to the future of internet gaming.”
While speaking at G2E, D’mato said that, “Pending sanctions by the World Trade Organization due to The White House's current policy on Internet gambling could be the major driver for legalization. Non-gaming corporations likely to be affected by any sanctions could put pressure on Congress to make changes in its current anti-online gambling approach.”
One thing the panel agreed on was the legalization of online poker. They all believe that online poker will most likely become legal before any other casino games will. They also were in agreement on the topic of regulation, that in order to prevent underage gambling and ensure protection for players, the Internet Gambling industry needs to be regulated.
The panel expressed their concern about current online player protection. Since the advent of the UIGEA and the ban on financial transactions to gambling sites by US banks, the panel is concerned that well-known reputable companies are being shut out of the market.
Panel member Andre Wilsenach stated, "I am afraid the US customer today is very exposed, there's no player protection.”
The panel’s concerns may be fueled by the recent Absolute scandal, which thankfully is the exception, not the rule in judging online poker sites credibility.