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Poker News | Gambling and the Law

Online Poker Legislation

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The recently passed online gaming legislation, known formerly as the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, resulted in an outrageous reaction from poker lobbyists and their support groups.

The legislation was strangely merged with the absolutely unrelated bill regarding American port security, making it an easy pass through the Senate. The results were obvious: by a vote of 409 vs. 2, the bill passed through the Senate on a voice vote, with no records regarding the Senator's view on the matter whatsoever. Moreover, some of the key elements of the port security bill were removed, such as rail and transit security funding for American citizens.

With the online gaming legislation passed, it will be illegal to use banks and credit cards to fund the player's gaming (or wagering) account/-s, but a variety of online payment systems (such as FirePay or NETeller) were omitted, making the legislation quite difficult to enforce.

Cries of outrage from the poker community followed soon after. Michael Bolcerek, the president of the Poker Players Alliance, backed up by more than twenty thousand members who are part of this organization, said, "This last minute deal reeks of political gamesmanship. The American people should be outraged that Congress has hijacked a vital security bill with a poker prohibition that nearly three fourths of the country opposes. Allowing this bill to become law would run contrary to public opinion and would damage an already fractured relationship between government and the electorate. The millions of Americans who enjoy playing this great game will have the last voice in this debate come Election Day."

Bolcerek has also provided the results of a survey, showing that almost three fourths of American citizens do not support the new legislation, and stated that with the right tax regulation, the US budget would gain billions of dollars. "Congress has an opportunity to regulate and tax online poker leading to potentially billions of dollars in annual revenue for the federal government and the states," said Bolcerek. "If the goal of Congress is to protect people from the possible dangers of gambling, a prohibition is the worst way of achieving it. All it will do is push poker underground, essentially creating online speakeasies, which will provide no protection for youths, no services for the problem gambler and leave only the most unscrupulous operators in the game."

More poker player's societies showed similar reactions after having found out about the passage of the online gaming legislation. Keepthefreedom.org, one of these organizations, has introduced a petition to the members of the Senate, which is available for everyone to sign at their site, and it is clear that there is more to come. With the opinions of Senate and poker players around the US clashed, and some online poker rooms already starting to ban American players' accounts, the whole poker society watches the developments of this conflict with uneasiness.

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