The United States recently adopted a law, known as the UIGEA (Law on Illegal Internet Games), which made it illegal for any American poker player to fund an online poker site with money to be used in poker games. There are many reasons why this damaging legislation should be reversed, and why the US government should consider regulating online poker. Here are some key ideas:
UIGEA was literally thanked as a last minute rider for a port bill, which was intended to pass. UIGEA was to the ths bill, signed by President Bush, about 20 minutes before the portraits of Congress vote. UIGEA was never discussed or debated in Congress and was voted out of its original draft, which has many, many holes in it.
UIGEA improperly implements its implementation in the US banking system. It makes banks responsible and obliged to identify and stop checks and online banking transfers that are game-related. Specifically, UIGEA does not clearly define what a game transaction is and is not. The banking system is currently weakly equipped with the necessary power to implement such a vague team and has been unpleasant in taking many years to implement a proper system that could identify offensive transactions without unintentional stoppage of beneficial transactions. In addition, UIGEA requires the banking system to implement this law at its own time (ie without payment) and assume that its actions are required. Given recent concerns in the US banking system, it is absolutely no sense for the banking industry to spend its time designing a plan to implement a team full of cracks, especially when there are infinitely more pressing needs that the banking system has to count on these days.
For the hypocrisy argument, the US government says that online poker is illegal when accounts are funded for gaming, but it is completely legal and allowed to play state lotteries, bet on online horse racing and bet on fantasy sports online. Why in the world, lotteries are considered to be legal (when in fact they are completely left to chance) when a game of skill (Poker) is considered illegal and immoral, as evidenced by UIGEAs advocates. It just makes no sense. Poker players know that there is an inherent chance element associated with the game, but it is largely a game of skill (like Chess).
We currently run the largest state deficit in American history, with kindness, the Bush administration, and government debt has risen from 5 BB to 9.5 BB during George Bushs clock. Online poker regulation can lead to a significant decline to the US government, which would certainly have a positive impact on lowering the budget deficit and lowering the balloon in the national debt. There are many who have suggested how to implement taxing online poker, and we can safely learn from our friends in the UK, who already do this.
There are many (this author included) who think that the reason why the US government does not regulate internet-based poker are the strong Las Vegas casino lobbyists (who think online poker hurts their business) and those who think Las Vegas is plans his strategy to go online at any time as well. The laws that designed UIGEA believe that elimination of non-US based online poker will help pave the way for land-based casinos to enter this market and help eradicate all international competition that might otherwise exist.
Other advocates of UIGEA argue that online poker encourages undergambling, destroying the fabric of American society. Nothing can be further from the truth, and the sophisticated technology currently exists that would allow online poker sites to prohibit the protection of minors.
Finally, how is the US government able to tell its American citizens how to spend their own money? There is a serious speech issue at stake here. Furthermore, the Internet does not show any geographical boundaries and by prohibiting citizens from playing on an online poker site physically located in another country, this shows that the US government does not feel a reason to tell its constituency what sites it can and can not frequent. If the US government will not allow online poker sites to be available, we may be able to eliminate sites that cater for alcohol, tobacco, gender, credit cards, etc. etc. Why stop online poker?
In summary, there are many, many reasons to cancel UIGEA and allow online poker to be played. Hopefully, the next government government will see the light and transform the stupidity and short-term view that the current administration imposes.