Senators Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, and Judd Gregg, a Republican representing New Hampshire, have launched S.3018, the Bipartisan Tax Fairness and Simplification Act of 2010, which includes provisions to legalise and regulate Internet gambling in the United States.
The bill proposes wideranging changes to tax structures, but Section C also addresses the legalisation of online gambling.
The introduction of the proposal received the immediate support of the pro-online gambling pressure group Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative, who's spokesman Michael Waxman observed:
"With so much media focus on the differences between Democrats and Republicans in Congress, this bipartisan initiative highlights the growing support on both ends of Capitol Hill for replacing the failed prohibition on Internet gambling with a system to regulate the industry, protect consumers and generate billions in new revenue."
The Poker Players Alliance, which represents over a million US poker players, was also quick to give qualified support. John Pappas, Executive Director of the Alliance, said that while he and his colleagues were still digesting the tax implications of S 3018, it was encouraging to see internet gambling addressed.
"We're pleased with it," Pappas said. "The prospects of this legislation are unclear. This is a sign of things to come, perhaps seeing internet gambling being added as pay-for in other bills."
Provisions in the Bipartisan Tax Fairness and Simplification Act of 2010 to regulate Internet gambling are similar to those included in the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act (H.R. 2267), introduced last year by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (see previous InfoPowa reports).
Similarly, Chairman Frank's bill has attracted a bipartisan group of 65 co-sponsors, including Representatives John Conyers, chairman of the Committee of the Judiciary Pete King, ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee George Miller, chairman of the Committee on Education and Labour.
Senator Wyden previously introduced an amendment in the Senate Finance Committee to use Internet gambling revenue to offset the costs of health care reform. That amendment was not brought to a vote, given the decision by the Committee to limit revenue provisions to matters closely related to heath care.
A Joint Committee on Taxation analysis found that regulating Internet gambling, as proposed in companion pieces of pending legislation introduced by Chairman Frank and Representative Jim McDermott, would generate nearly $42 billion over 10 years for the U.S Treasury. The analysis is based on the provision of a federal license for operators that would allow them to offer online gambling throughout the U.S., while maintaining existing federal prohibitions on any form of sports betting.