Rumors are swirling of a last-ditch effort for a federal bill in the United States to pass by the end of 2012 and make it legal for states to opt into online poker.
Those rumors became fact when the bill from Harry Reid and Jon Kyl recently surfaced, with plans to introduce it for debate for the 2012 legislative session ends.
The Reid/Kyl bill (officially known as the "The Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2012") is taking a slightly different tack than previous bills.
This bill strengthens some anti-gambling laws currently on the books while carving out an exception for poker.
The act would let states opt-in through voluntary votes to take part in the act, with the default status or that of inaction being to opt out.
For states that opt in, online lottery ticket sales would be permitted but not any casino games or slot machines or any game that mimics a gambling game.
Poker and off-track horse race wagering would be allowed but international players would be barred from taking part in any online wagering offered in the US.
For the first two years only land-based casino operators and some manufacturers of gaming devices that meet certain criteria will be allowed to operate online poker sites.
The bill also contains a provision that restricts companies involved in internet gambling in the US after the enactment of UIGEA in 2006, with a five-year block on them unless they can convince a court that no laws were breached during that time.
As far as oversight, a new Office of Online Poker Oversight (OOPO) will be created within the Commerce Department that will be tasked with overseeing online poker offering throughout the US.
Operators will pay a 16% tax on all online poker activity with 14% going to the states and tribes that opt in and 2% to the federal government to cover the cost of the OOPO.