Much has been written recently about the proposed blackout period in the current poker legislation. Briefly, it would ban all online poker in the U.S. for 15 months until formal and legal sites/regulations are established. I have held off until now with my thinking on the issue because I did not want to rush a response and because there was a lot of unsubstantiated information swarming around the internet. Well, here are my thoughts:
(1) I entirely support legal, formal, regulated online poker in the U.S. Even if that means sacrificing some things we currently enjoy.
(2) I do not want a blackout period. However, I support a blackout period IF it results in a structured organized online poker apparatus.
(3) A blackout period is not necessary. Often legislation is enacted that makes things legal/illegal on Day 2 that were the opposite on Day 1. For a recent example, take Four Loko. There is a strict cutoff for making it illegal to sell the drink in New York City. It is legal on Day 1 and will be illegal on Day 2. I see little justification for why regulations governing how poker sites are run (21 and over, taxed, GA issues, etc.) cannot be implemented overnight in a software update (or maybe at most over the course of a few days of maintenance). Heck, most of the changes already exist. The paperwork for sites to register/get approved to can occur in the interim between legislation passage and the effective date as well. [NOTE: Sites voluntarily leaving the U.S. market to better chances of governmental approval is a separate issue.] And so this now brings me to my main reason for opposing the blackout period…
(4) Call me a cynic, but you may also eventually call me a prophet. I have strong concerns that once the blackout period goes into effect the legislation will get stalled/changed/repealed/etc. and we will be stuck in a land of no poker and existing legislation that affirmatively makes it illegal to start a site. Purgatory. Heck, hell.
Onto other news. The Kentucky-iMEGA litigation continues. Kentucky recently filed an opposition to iMEGA’s stance that the state lacks standing (which means having a legal leg to stand on as an injured party) to sue. This is a standard development in litigation and one that likely will not be resolved for at least a couple of months. Stay tuned.