Recently, in 2006, the United States enacted legislation, known as the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act), which essentially caused it to be unlawful for just about any American Poker player to fund an on the web Poker site with money to be used in Poker gambling. There are many reasons as to the reasons this detrimental law must be reversed, and why the U.S. government should consider regulating Online Poker. Here are a few central ideas:
The UIGEA was literally tacked on as a last second rider to a Ports bill, that has been destined to pass. The UIGEA was included with ths bill, that has been signed by President Bush, about 20 minutes prior to the Port bills Congress vote. The UIGEA was never discussed or debated in Congress, and was voted on from its original draft, which has many, many holes in it.
The UIGEA unfairly puts the onus on its implementation on the U.S. Banking system. It creates banks responsible and culpable for identifying and stopping Dewapoker checks and internet bank transfers which are gambling-related. Specifically, the UIGEA does not clearly delineate just what a gambling transaction is and isn’t. The banking system is currently ill-equipped with the mandatory 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 can 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 creates zero sense for the banking industry to be spending its time devising an agenda to implement a law that is packed with crevices, particularly when you will find infinitely more pressing needs that the banking system must reckon with one of these 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’s totally legal and permissible to play state lotteries, wager for online horse-racing, and bet on fantasy sports online. Why in the world are lotteries deemed to be legal (when, actually, they’re totally left to chance), when a game of skill (Poker) is deemed to be illegal and immoral, as mentioned by the proponents of the UIGEA. It just makes no sense. Anybody who plays Poker knows that there surely is an inherent chance element associated with the game, however it is basically a game title of skill (akin to Chess).
We are now running the biggest government deficit in American history, courtesy the Bush Administration, and the National Debt could 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 a substantial windfall to the U.S. government, that will certainly have a confident effect on lowering the budget deficit and slowing down the ballooning National debt. There are many who’ve suggested how to implement taxing online Poker, and we could surely study on our friends in the U.K., that are already doing this.
There are many (this author included) who think that the main reason the U.S. government isn’t regulating internet-based Poker, may be the strong Las Vegas casino lobbyists (who believe online Poker is hurting their business), and those who think that Las Vegas is planning their strategy of going online sooner or later as well. The lawmakers who engineered UIGEA think that elimination of non-US-based online Poker, will help pave just how for land-based casinos to enter this market, and will help eradicate any international competition that may otherwise exist.
Other proponents of the UIGEA argue that online Poker encourages underage gambling, which destroys the fabric of American society. Nothing could possibly be further from the truth, and the sophistication of technology currently exists that will enable online Poker websites to prohibit the patronage of underage customers.
Finally, how is it that the American government can tell its U.S. citizens how they can spend their particular money ? There’s a critical Freedom of Speech issue at stake here. Further, the web shows no geographical boundaries, and by prohibiting citizens from playing on an on the web Poker site that is physically situated in another country, this demonstrates that the U.S. government feels no remorse in telling its constituency what websites it may and cannot frequent. If the U.S. government isn’t going to permit online Poker sites from being accesses, then maybe, just maybe, we must eliminate any websites that appeal to alcohol, tobacco, sex, charge cards, etc., etc., etc. Why stop at online Poker ?
In conclusion, there are lots of, many reasons to repeal the UIGEA, and permit online Poker to be played. Hopefully, another governmental regime might find 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: