Online poker to be legalized in US by 2009

The Chairman of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) pressure group, Alfonse D’Amato, has announced that he expects online poker to be legalized in the US within 18 months. Speaking at G2E, the former US Senator 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.

D’Amato stated that 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.

D’Amato’s comments came during the State of the Industry: Internet Gambling at the Crossroads keynote session at G2E where he was joined by Terrence Lanni, Chairman and CEO for MGM Mirage, Gary Loveman, Chairman, CEO and President for Harrah’s Entertainment and Andre Wilsenach, CEO of the Alderney Gambling Control Commission.

The panelists agreed that online poker would likely be legalised before other online casino-style games and that it is possible to successfully regulate Internet gambling to prevent underage gambling and ensure player protection.

However, with the US ban on Internet gambling financial transactions keeping well-known, reputable companies out of the marketplace, the panel expressed concern about player protection in an environment dominated by unregulated or poorly regulated sites.

“I am afraid the US customer today is very exposed, there’s no player protection,” said Wilsenach.