For those who missed it, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) regulations have become law. As I stated in my last post regarding this issue, the UIGEA does not make playing poker online a crime. What is does do is make it illegal for banks and other financial institutions to allow transfers to and from online cardrooms. The regulations state that all banks must comply with this law by December 1 of this year.
Although the UIGEA is not supposed to apply to lotteries, horse racing, and other legal forms of gambling, it appears that the reaction from many banks and credit card companies has been to simply flag any transaction related to gambling, legal or otherwise, and prevent such a transaction from going through. I guess it’s just not worth the banks’ time and effort to figure out which gambling transactions involve legal gambling, and which involve illegal gambling. This has already proven to be a problem in New Hampshire, where people can no longer buy lottery tickets online with credit cards. The state lottery director said this problem could end up costing the state a million dollars in revenue, much of which would’ve gone towards education spending. I’m sure that’s what Frist had in mind when he drew up the UIGEA!
Poker players have started to feel the effects as well, as it’s become harder to get deposits onto Poker Stars through a bank transfer. Expect things to get worse before they get better.
There are, fortunately, some reasonable ways this whole thing could be turned around. The two most plausible seem to be a passage of Barney Frank’s bill–the one that got through committee last fall–or a bill called The Midnight Rule Act, recently introduced by Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), which would undo all the new rules put into place in the final 90 days of the previous administration. Another option is for Congress to make use of the Congressional Review Act that I mentioned in the last post on this issue, but observers deem it very unlikely for that to happen, for whatever reason.
The upshot for us is the same. Call your representative. Tell him or her that you want to see UIGEA reversed, and online gambling legal and regulated. Urge your rep to co-sponsor Nadler’s bill, or to get Barney Frank’s bill up for a vote. Just tell them what you want, and then let them figure out how to do it. It may not happen right away, but with a new administration in power, we should be able to start reversing the trend on this issue sooner rather than later.
OK, enough legal stuff. I recently made a six-day trip to Atlantic City. In my next post, I’ll tell you all about it.