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Congressman seeks to legalize online gambling nationwide

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Republican congressman on Thursday introduced legislation to allow online gambling on a federal level, which he says will give consumers more uniformity than legalizing it on a state-by-state basis.

The move by Representative Peter King of New York follows industry lobbying for federal legislation to provide a larger, more liquid market across state lines, attracting more gamblers.

U.S. casinos operators like MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment Corp plan to launch Internet operations in states like New Jersey, which recently passed online gambling legislation.

"A common federal standard will ensure strong protections for consumers, protect against problem and underage gambling, and make it easier for businesses, players, lawmakers, and regulators to navigate and freely participate," said King in a statement.

Online gambling is pegged to generate $10 billion in added revenues by 2017 if allowed by federal statute, according to the American Gaming Association. About $4 billion is now being spent for illegal sites, the AGA said.

Previous bills in Congress have failed. King's bill, as currently contemplated, would allow individual states to opt out of federal online poker requirements.

(Reporting by Susan Zeidler; editing by Andrew Hay)

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