My View of Online Poker Regulations
Little has been resolved with regards to online poker in the 20 months since the President signed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). In general, people are still unsure of whether they are legally allowed to gamble over the Internet, and many of them are upset about it. Although this law does not specifically target poker or make it illegal, the biggest outcry came from the millions of U.S. customers – myself included – who enjoyed playing online poker as a past time or as a profession. Personally, I am disappointed with our government for passing the UIGEA because I do not trust its motives, whether they are money or the morality of the country. Unfortunately, since gambling is illegal in many states, it would appear that passing such a law is well within the rights of the government.
Since the passing of the UIGEA in September 2006, several changes have been made to the online poker industry in the United States. In brief, it became illegal for a business to accept money for online gambling, which was merely reinforcement of the Wire Act of 1961. As a response, many of the most popular online gambling and poker sites stopped accepting U.S. players, although the law puts no restrictions on playing. Several individual states have also made gambling online a prosecutable offense. Organizations, such as the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), of which I am a member, have taken up the cause of legalizing online poker and are fighting the government over it. I wholeheartedly disagree with our nation’s stigma on gambling, an offshoot of its Christian morality. Casinos provide a service and entertainment and in return the make money; to me, this appears to nothing more than capitalism at its finest. Why should I be forced to go spend $300 on a bottle of alcohol at a club if I would much rather have it slowly whittled away from me by a gambling establishment? I feel exactly the same way about online poker, although I do agree with pundits who call for some form of regulation, as uncontrolled growth could lead to significant amounts of money either being lost or merely removed from the U.S economy. If the government would agree to cooperate, it could seize this opportunity and make millions of dollars by doing so. Unfortunately, we continue to be ruled by a stodgy, conservative regime that does not hurriedly reconsider its decisions, so online poker will continue to reside in legal purgatory for the next several years. Hopefully by then, we will see the error of our ways and open ourselves back up to online gambling with the necessary regulations and restrictions to keep people from bankrupting themselves and the country in the process.