The US Congress is slowly gaining support in the fight against last year’s controversial UIGEA bill, which outlawed all forms of online gambling except for horse betting. The reversal in the House of Representatives can likely be attributed to the fact that the WTO recently deemed the UIGEA bill unlawful, and will hold the US liable for billions of dollars in compensation to various online gambling companies.
So far, opposition to the UIGEA bill has been almost completely along party lines with Democrats outnumbering Republicans 10 to 1 in opposition. The opposition has manifested itself in the form of US Representative Barney Frank’s Internet Gambling Regulation Enforcement Act, although there are currently four bills in the House working towards finagling a way around the unpopular UIGEA bill.
One of the main authors of the UIGEA bill, Representative Bob Goodlatte from Virginia, who spoke out against online gambling along moral grounds was recently revealed by Perspectives Weekly to have accepted nearly $40,000 dollars in campaign contributions from the horse racing industry. In a swift move to save face, Goodlatte returned the money last week. However, immediately following the return of the money Goodlatte created a Political Action Committee under his name, which he called the “Good Fund”. The “Good Fund” reportedly received a sum of $15,000 dollars in contributions from the horse racing industry that was not returned. So much for the moral high ground. Because of Goodlatte’s so called “moral opposition” to the online gaming industry, the United States government could now face billions of dollars in lawsuits from various online gaming industries now that the WTO has deemed the UIGEA bill illegal under international law.
Goodlatte is not the only one to blame. Many in the Republican Party backed this bill, especially online pokers biggest enemy: Senator Bill Frist.
The massive demand for legal online poker activity is a strong indicator that the UIGEA bill must go.The passing of this bill has also had astoundingly negative effects on the US economy: billions of dollars that are being earned on these sites are now going to stay abroad in foreign banks; the current pending lawsuits by various gaming companies against the United States government totaling over a billion dollars cannot be helping either; and furthermore, many jobs that were once located in the US have moved to other countries where the industry is not so highly regulated.
It is becoming more and more obvious that the United States government cannot block American poker players from playing online. These players cannot be barred from playing poker online unless the government tries to implement invasive “Big Brother” strategies which at this juncture seem highly unlikely. The newest idea being brought to the table to is to create a bill that will makes online gaming law similar to those enjoyed by the citizens of the UK, where the online gaming industry is regulated. They now offer online gaming licenses, which protects players and rids online gambling of crime. The system makes it easy for players who wish to play poker online, and keeps them safe because the government has the power to intervene when companies act unlawfully.The US House of Representatives should act accordingly, and follow this successful example of how to regulate the online gaming industry.