LAS VEGAS (AP) — Rep. Joe Barton wants to help gamblers stay on the couch.
The Texas Republican introduced a bill in Congress Thursday that would pave the way for states to legalize online poker without fear of federal intervention.
It's the second such bill this year. In June, Republican New York Congressman Peter King introduced another piece of legislation that would establish regulations for legal online poker.
The federal government cracked down on Internet gambling in 2011. But the same year, the U.S. Justice Department issued a ruling making online gambling legal so long as it's permitted on the state level.
Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware have legalized some kind of online gambling, and legislatures in other states are weighing the issue.
Barton's legislation, dubbed the Internet Poker Freedom Act, would only apply to poker and would allow states to opt out of the federal system.
The Texas lawmaker said the bill is needed to protect players and the integrity of the game from shady offshore organizations and confusing patchworks of state-by-state regulation.
"Poker is an all-American game. It's a game that I learned as a teen and continue to play today. Just like millions of other players I enjoy the strategy and skill involved," he said in a statement. "I continue to be supportive of the Americans who play poker online. They deserve to have a legal, on-shore system that makes sure everyone is playing in an honest, fair structure."
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.