Posts Tagged ‘American online gambling’

Barney Frank pessimistic about online gambling bill

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

It was not long ago that seemingly every online gambling news source reported that UIGEA was likely to be repealed this year. They touted accomplishments like Barney Frank’s bill passing the House Financial Services Committee. Meanwhile, I was one of the few people telling you not to hold your breath, that in the limited time left before mid-term elections, it was unlikely that a Congress that is concerned now more with elections than in passing legislation would floor such a controversial bill. Now it seems that Barney Frank agrees with me.

Representative Frank recently told Capitol Hill that he does not believe his online gambling legislation will be discussed on the floor before the mid-term elections. He also does not believe it will be discussed during the lame-duck session. Traditionally, Congress does not pass any major legislation during the lame-duck session because doing so would likely go against the will of the American people, who voted the people out for a reason. Still, some members of Congress have hinted that major controversial legislation such as a climate change bill could reach a vote due to lame ducks having no more fear of losing their job.

Aside from lame-duck legislation, the other dirty trick that could get Frank’s bill passed would be to tack it onto another larger bill, such as a jobs bill or a tax-cut bill. UIGEA was itself tacked onto the SAFE Port Act in 2006 as an amendment and the best chance bill that would repeal UIGEA has is likely to do the same.

Yet even if that happens and Frank’s bill passes the House in 2010, there is still a much bigger problem: the Senate. The closest thing the Senate has to a comparable bill has little support and is also not scheduled for debate. In order for UIGEA to be repealed in 2010, the bill would have to pass the House and then the Senate and if the two bills are different, which is almost guaranteed, it would then have to be combined by a Conference Committee and passed again. It would then have to go to President Obama and signed into law. All of that before the new congressional session in January.

It is for that reason that I think 2011 is the best chance we have for repealing UIGEA. Though Frank may no longer be Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee anymore (and may not even still be in office), Congress should be full of moderate Democrats and Tea Party Republicans that lean toward small-government libertarianism. If that happens, both sides should be able to agree that the government shouldn’t be banning online gambling.

Interstate online poker coming to U.S.

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

This seemed like crazy talk a few years ago, but online poker is coming to the United States. Tribal casinos in more than 30 states have joined together and the collaboration will result in the first interstate online poker network in America.

Atlantis Internet Group Corporation announced today that they signed a licensing deal with Cake Gaming NV that will open up online poker in the United States. The licensing agreement will allow tribal casinos to run online poker networks on their land. The Atlantis Internet Group Corp. will use their Tribal Gaming Network, which was approved by the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC).

This deal succeeds where Congress so far has failed. Many in Congress – most notably Barney Frank and Ron Paul – have been trying to get online gambling legislation passed, but it has stalled in the House after passing the Financial Services Committee and no bill with any support exists in the Senate. It seems increasingly unlikely that a repeal of UIGEA will happen this year. Since intrastate activity and activity on tribal casino is exempt from federal laws, the Tribal Gaming Network needs no such legislation.

The Atlantis Internet Group Corporation will run the only online poker network operating in more than one state. With it, anyone on tribal land can access the online poker network, existing on a Wide Area Progressive network (WAP) and play online poker against anyone else that is on the network.

Before UIGEA created a de facto ban on online gambling in the United States, America accounted for approximately two-thirds of the worldwide online gambling revenue. Losing that market meant online gambling operators losing a lot of money. The tribal online poker network will bring much-needed revenue to the tribes.

Donald L. Bailey, the CEO of the Atlantic Internet Group Corporation, said that the new system offers “an immediate and legal solution to Indian casinos nationwide, providing the largest online poker network in the U.S.” He also called the network a milestone and said that they will provide an “economic shot in the arm for tribes and states facing deficits nationwide.”

Nevada congresswoman blasts UIGEA

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

It’s not often that I agree with Shelley Berkley, or any Democrat for that matter, but she had a rare moment of common sense this week. In a Roll Call article, the U.S. Representative from Nevada criticized the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006.

Berkley stated that the UIGEA does nothing to protect the American people from dangerous online casinos and is also ineffective in preventing online gambling. She also pointed out that the “law doesn’t even make clear what is illegal gambling and what is not when it comes to the Internet.” She said that the law takes enforcement out of the hands of the correct agencies and instead pins “a cyber ‘tin star’ to the chest of the financial industry with the idea that these companies would become the new ‘virtual sheriff’ in town.

UIGEA never defines what online gambling is illegal and there is no federal law that does so, either, though the Department of Justice considers the practice to be against the law. Of course, the DOJ often invents new rules and laws like that, despite a lack of authority to do so. The UIGEA simply places the burden on the financial industry to make sure no “unlawful” online gambling payments are processed, without even defining what is unlawful. It is an unfair burden on an already hurting industry and it is bad for online gamblers throughout the country.

In the article, Berkley compares UIGEA and the de facto ban on online gambling to the prohibition of alcohol during the 1920’s and 1930’s. It’s always funny when liberal Democrats use Prohibition as an example, considering that the law was passed during the Progressive Era, when big government took unprecedented control over industry and the private lives of American citizens all in the name of the “greater good.” Progressives of that time period are heroes of the big-government liberals of today, yet they’re happy to denounce Prohibition. I guess they’re fine with the government controlling everything else, but they also enjoy their booze.

Ideology aside, Berkley is right. During the Prohibition, the government tried to keep Americans from drinking, but instead it just made them more secretive about their drinking. It also had the added bonus of giving power to gangsters like Al Capone. UIGEA and the unlawful de facto ban on online gambling does not prevent Americans from gambling at online casinos, but it makes them hide it and it keeps those casinos away from the watchful eyes of regulators.

Of course, government regulation isn’t necessarily a good thing. The two most heavily regulated industries in the United States are the oil and financial industries and we’ve seen a bit of damage to those lately. Additionally, government regulation of online casinos would most likely result in the players being charged more, such as the poker rake increase we’ve seen in France.

Whether the U.S. government should regulate online gambling is a question open to debate, but one thing is certain: The government needs to stop trying to prevent people from spending their own money as they please. Like during Prohibition, this is a case of the government thinking they know better than the people and we have seen time and again that nothing could be farther from the truth.

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