Joe Barton headed to Vegas with new online poker bill in tow

WSOPolitics: What's gonna be different this time?

by , Jun 21, 2011 | 2:17 pm

photo by James Berglie

Joe Barton’s online poker: “And then he three-bet me on the turn with — get this — jack-high! How sick is that?”

US Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) will be in Las Vegas for Friday’s shuffle-up-and-deal … and possibly to unveil his new online poker (only) bill.

The Texas Republican has taken the baton from Barney Frank (D-MA), by way of John Campbell (R-CA), to lead the charge for licensed and regulated online poker in the House, with a new bill his office says he plans to “drop” either Friday or closer to the July 4th weekend.

It’s still probably too early to make decent predictions, prognostication, and prop bets — haven’t even seen a draft yet — but the forces lining up this go-round are indeed different than before.

This time we’re talking about an online poker-only bill, with a different committee path, and a conservative Republican — perhaps looking to put a bipartisan feather in his cap before the ’12 elections — charged with rallying support on his side of the aisle.

The Frank bill was initially about all online gambling, which brought necessary concessions to the NFL and others — forcing Frank to dilute his argument that his bill was a matter of 21st century consumer protections and civil liberties. The Reid bill was poker-only but something different altogether — arguably a strategic bone or carrot or pawn in bigger political games. But it did provide valuable data on who still needed checks from Caesars and MGM to properly play ball where various members stood.

When Barton symbolically took over the cause last month at the PPA’s Washington DC fly-in, he wasn’t exactly addressing a groundswell of revolt … at least not one ready to amass on the Washington mall screaming “give me PokerStars or give me death!” But to that extent, the real story, imho, wasn’t so much who was there, but who wasn’t …

No Full Tilt, no PokerStars, and certainly no UB, lol.

For all the good these banished poker sites may or may not have done since the UIGEA, it had become apparent that they also complicated the political effort they championed. So now, with a bill conceived before April 15th but written afterwards, Barton may be addressing the same poker players Barney Frank spoke to before him, but he will be navigating a different mix of motivated interests in the effort to make online poker special.


  • yes bring online poker back to life.