Recently, in 2006, the United States enacted legislation, known as the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act), which essentially managed to get unlawful for any American Poker player to fund an on the web Poker site with money to be found in Poker gambling. There are many reasons why this detrimental law should really be reversed, and why the U.S. government must look into regulating Online Poker. Here certainly 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 added to 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, that 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 ill-equipped with the necessary man-power to implement such a vague law, and has been blunt in stating that it would take many years to implement a correct system that might identify offending transactions, without inadvertently halting benign transactions. Further, the UIGEA is requiring the banking system to implement this law by itself 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 absolutely no sense for the banking industry to be spending its time devising a plan to implement a law that’s high in 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 in the world are lotteries deemed to be legal (when, actually, they are 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. Anybody who plays Poker knows that there surely is an inherent chance element related to the overall game, but it is largely a game of skill (akin to Chess).
We are running the greatest government deficit in American history, courtesy the Bush Administration, and the National Debt will 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 would certainly have an optimistic affect lowering the budget deficit and reducing the ballooning National debt. There are many who’ve suggested how to implement taxing online Poker, and we could surely study from our friends in the U.K., who’re already doing this.
There are many (this author included) who genuinely believe that the main 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 who genuinely believe that Las Vegas is planning their strategy of going online sooner or later as well. The lawmakers who engineered UIGEA genuinely believe that elimination of non-US-based online Poker, can help pave the way in which for land-based casinos to enter this market, and can help eradicate any international competition that will 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 facts, and the sophistication of technology currently exists that would 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 is 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 the web Poker site that’s 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 is not going to permit online Poker sites from being accesses, then maybe, just maybe, we ought to eliminate any websites that cater to alcohol, tobacco, sex, credit cards, etc., etc., etc. Why stop at online Poker ?
In summary, 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 present administration.
Douglas Hayman, President of Expert Software Systems, is really a database designer and developer, that designs and hosts several informational websites, including: