Congress held two separate hearings last week that dealt with the issue of online poker. Are we closer to regulated online poker in the United States? Buzzy doesn't know (and neither does anyone else), but there is reason for optimism simply because there are actually hearings being held.

From PokerNews:

Perhaps we are reading too much into these hearings and trying, much like Stuart Smalley in repeating his mantra into a mirror, to talk ourselves into believing that the U.S. government really is coming around to recognize our right to participate in this activity. But every discussion of poker on Capitol Hill this year has given the impression that lawmakers are trying to figure out how, not if, to best license and regulate online poker.

The main theme of the Indian Affairs Committee hearing was that the tribes want to be included in the planning stages of any bill before it is passed and want the equal opportunity to begin offering online poker at the same time as the Nevada casinos. A video of the hearing and written testimony from each of the witnesses, including Poker Players Alliance chairman Alfonse D'Amato, can be viewed at the official committee website.

Friday's House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade hearing had a couple of surprise witnesses. Barney Frank] (D-Mass.) joined John Campbell (R-Calif.) and Frank Wolf (R-Va.) on the panel of congressmen.