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H.R. 2888 (114th): Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2015

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Jun 25, 2015.


Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2015

Prohibits a person from (and requires a fine under the federal criminal code, imprisonment up to five years, or both for) operating an Internet poker facility without a license in good standing issued by a specified qualified regulatory authority.

Requires the Department of Commerce to establish the Office of Internet Poker Oversight.

Makes such prohibition inapplicable to facilities operated by persons located outside the United States in which bets or wagers are made by individuals located outside the United States.

Allows a licensee to accept an Internet poker bet or wager from U.S.-located individuals and offer related services so long as the license remains in good standing.

Prohibits licensees from accepting bets or wagers by persons residing where a state or Indian tribe has notified Commerce of specific gambling prohibitions. Sets forth exceptions concerning the applicability of such state prohibitions on tribal lands.

Establishes a five-year term for initial licenses, subject to renewal and transfer requirements.

Authorizes enforcement and disciplinary actions by Commerce and qualified regulatory authorities. Sets forth civil monetary penalties.

Requires each qualified regulatory authority to: (1) maintain a list of persons self-excluded from playing Internet poker through licensed Internet poker facilities; and (2) submit a current copy of such list each week to Commerce, that shall maintain a master list. Requires each licensee, as a licensure condition, to implement a gambling addiction, responsible gaming, and self exclusion program.

Precludes persons prohibited from gaming with a licensee by law or by order of Commerce, a qualified regulatory authority, or any court of competent jurisdiction, including any person on the self-exclusion list, from collecting winnings or recovering losses arising from prohibited gaming activity. Requires court-ordered child support delinquents to be included on the self-exclusion list.

Amends the Public Health Service Act to require the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to establish and implement programs for the identification, prevention, and treatment of pathological and other problem gambling. Requires customer tracking data on player behavior (with personally identifying information removed) to be made available to the public.

Prohibits licensees, except as specified, from: (1) accepting bets or wagers on any game, event, or activity that is not Internet poker; and (2) using credit cards for Internet gambling. Establishes a violation for operating a place of public accommodation for accessing Internet poker facilities.

Requires a fine, imprisonment up to three years, or both for certain rules of play violations, including using tools, electronic devices, or software to obtain a prohibited or unfair advantage or to defraud any licensee or persons placing bets or wagers with a licensee.

Amends the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 to prohibit a financial transaction provider from being held liable for a financial activity or transaction, including a payments processing activity, in connection with a bet or wager permitted by this Act or the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978 without actual knowledge of any applicable federal or state law violation. Shields such providers from liability for blocking or refusing to honor specified transactions.

Requires the Director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network to investigate unlicensed Internet gambling enterprises and provide the Department of the Treasury with a list of such enterprises updated at least every 60 days.

Deems financial transaction providers to have actual knowledge that persons or entities are unlicensed Internet gambling enterprises if they are included on such list or, under other specified circumstances, when information in addition to the list is available to such a provider demonstrating that a person or entity is such an enterprise.