in your face, senator frist!

By now most of you online players should have heard something about the new illegal online gambling law. According to CardPlayer.com, “On the last Friday in September, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist worked into the night to get the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) attached” to a port security bill. And you may or may not know that it was signed into law by President Bush on Friday. (Read more here.) PocketFives.com had a great podcast on October 5th discussing the act and its ramifications. And if you are really interested you can read a detailed analysis of the act by Nelson Rose, a law professor, here.

If you don’t know what the UIGEA is or does, here is the most succinct yet thorough explanation I’ve found from CardPlayer.com [full article]:

H.R. 4411
After almost four hours of debate, the bill passed by a vote of 317-93. In a nutshell, here’s the meat of the statute and the predictable problems associated with each section of the bill.

Online gaming sites are prohibited from accepting payment from a U.S. financial institution.
Since all online sites are outside of the U.S., our government has no jurisdiction to enforce this part of the law. Simply stated, the U.S. cannot make laws or enforce laws regarding business outside the U.S.

Financial institutions are forbidden from delivering funds to online gaming sites. However, most banks and credit card companies already refuse to send money to offshore sites. Therefore, offshore third-party companies have already been set in motion to handle U.S. financial transactions.

The amended 1961 Wire Act modernizes its language by including the Internet and prohibiting games “predominantly subject to chance.” This will be the start of expensive and time-consuming litigation regarding whether poker is predominantly a game of skill or chance.

A burden is placed upon Internet service providers and other technology providers to block access to online gambling sites when requested to do so by a law enforcement agency. This will prove to be an unenforceable nightmare for all involved.

The bill directs the Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve to issue regulations outlining policies and procedures that could be used by financial institutions to identify and block gambling-related transactions that are transmitted through their payment systems. If the bill ever becomes law, these entities have 270 days to write such procedures. The implementation is mind-boggling.

The bill contains carve-outs for such things as lotteries, horse racing, and the stock market. Every opponent of the bill criticizes it because while it attempts to legislate morality, it prohibits only certain forms of gambling while allowing others.

As a matter of fact, although the proponents of the bill say that online gaming is destroying the moral fiber of society, the bill allows a state to house an online gaming site for its citizens.

Before this bill actually passed in the House of Representatives, I wasn’t that concerned. I had read a few things about it online and most informed opinions were that it was highly unlikely that such a bill would make it through both bodies of Congress. So I did nothing.

I just kept on clicking bet, raise or fold.

Now the unexpected has happened. Although considerably weaker than its original form, an unlawful internet gambling bill has passed. And we still don’t know the total fallout of this new piece of legislation. So while some of you guys keep talking about odds to call and bad beats, it’s possible that eventually we may all suffer that baddest beat of all: finding most, if not all, online poker sites closed to U.S. players. This thing is not over. In fact, Harrah’s recently announced that it will no longer accept registrations from online sites for its World Series of Poker. What, now I can’t satellite my way into the WSOP?

Party Poker, Titan Poker, and Pacific Poker are three major rooms that have recently closed shop to U.S. players. Also, Firepay issued a statement last week saying “…US account holders can no longer use FirePay for online gambling payments…”

While I do think there is much cause for alarm, there are still many places for U.S. players to play online. FlopTurnRiver.com has a fairly extensive list.

 

When the Nazis came for the communists,

I remained silent;

I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,

I remained silent;

I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,

I did not speak out;

I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for me,

there was no one left to speak out.

Martin Niemöller

But here’s what I’m getting at… In all honesty, before today, I didn’t even know the names of my Congressional representatives. I’m not as involved and informed in civic matters as I should be. But I know who speaks for me in Congress now. And today I sent the appropriate members of the House of Representatives and Senate emails asking them to amend the UIGEA. It took me about five minutes. And if you want to keep your right to play poker online I encourage you to do the same. The Poker Players Alliance makes it easy to drop a line from their site. I have also been staying up on the lastest related news by checking the National Right for Online Gaming web page.

So it’s on us to get up, get involved and do something. Together we can say, “In your face, Senator Frist!”

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