Recently, in 2006, the United States enacted legislation, referred to as the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act), which essentially managed to get unlawful for just about any American Poker player to fund an on line Poker site with money to be found in Poker gambling. There are many reasons as to why this detrimental law ought to be reversed, and why the U.S. government must look into regulating Online Poker. Here are a few central ideas:
The UIGEA was literally tacked on as a last minute rider to a Ports bill, that was destined to pass. The UIGEA was added to ths bill, that was signed by President Bush, about 20 minutes ahead of the Port bills Congress vote. The UIGEA was never discussed or debated in Congress, and was voted on from its original draft, which includes many, many holes in it.
The UIGEA unfairly puts the onus on its implementation on the U.S. Banking system. It generates banks responsible and culpable for identifying and stopping Dewapoker checks and internet bank transfers that are gambling-related. Specifically, the UIGEA does not clearly delineate just what a gambling transaction is and isn’t. The banking system is ill-equipped with the required man-power to implement this type of vague law, and has been blunt in stating that it would take several years to implement a correct system that may identify offending transactions, without inadvertently halting benign transactions. Further, the UIGEA is requiring the banking system to implement this law alone time (i.e., for no payment), and assume the culpability of its actions. Given the recent turmoil in the U.S. banking system, it makes zero sense for the banking industry to be spending its time devising an idea to implement a law that is full of crevices, particularly when you can find infinitely more pressing needs that the banking system must reckon with your days.
Now, for the hypocrisy argument – the U.S. government says that online Poker is illegal, when accounts are funded for the purposes of gambling, but it is totally legal and permissible to play state lotteries, wager for online horse-racing, and bet on fantasy sports online. Why on earth are lotteries deemed to be legal (when, in fact, they’re totally left to chance), each time a game of skill (Poker) is deemed to be illegal and immoral, as stated by the proponents of the UIGEA. It really makes no sense. Anyone who plays Poker knows that there surely is an inherent chance element related to the game, but it is basically a game title of skill (akin to Chess).
We are currently running the biggest government deficit in American history, courtesy the Bush Administration, and the National Debt may have increased from 5 BB to 9.5 BB under George Bush’s watch (that over a 90 % increase). Regulation of online Poker could bring an important windfall to the U.S. government, that could certainly have an optimistic effect on lowering the budget deficit and slowing down the ballooning National debt. There are many who’ve suggested how exactly to implement taxing online Poker, and we’re able to surely learn from our friends in the U.K., who are already doing this.
There are many (this author included) who believe that the reason the U.S. government is not regulating internet-based Poker, is the strong Las Vegas casino lobbyists (who believe online Poker is hurting their business), and those that believe that Las Vegas is planning their strategy of going online sooner or later as well. The lawmakers who engineered UIGEA believe that elimination of non-US-based online Poker, may help pave the way for land-based casinos to enter this market, and may help eradicate any international competition which may otherwise exist.
Other proponents of the UIGEA argue that online Poker encourages underage gambling, which destroys the fabric of American society. Nothing could be further from the truth, and the sophistication of technology currently exists that could enable online Poker websites to prohibit the patronage of underage customers.
Finally, how could it be that the American government can tell its U.S. citizens how they can spend their own money ? There’s a serious Freedom of Speech issue at stake here. Further, the net shows no geographical boundaries, and by prohibiting citizens from playing on an on line Poker site that is physically positioned in another country, this demonstrates that the U.S. government feels no remorse in telling its constituency what websites it can and cannot frequent. If the U.S. government is not going allowing online Poker sites from being accesses, then maybe, just maybe, we must eliminate any websites that appeal to alcohol, tobacco, sex, credit cards, etc., etc., etc. Why stop at online Poker ?
In conclusion, there are many, many reasons to repeal the UIGEA, and permit online Poker to be played. Hopefully, the next governmental regime will see the light, and reverse the stupidity and short-sightedness imposed by the current administration.
Douglas Hayman, President of Expert Software Systems, is just a database designer and developer, that designs and hosts several informational websites, including: