At the PPA rally on Tuesday, it was revealed that Representative Joseph Barton (R-TX) will introduce a bill that would repeal the UIGEA and declare poker a game of skill, not chance. I don’t want to stop getting my hopes up every time one of these poker savior bills are talked up. But there have been many (Rep. Frank’s bill, for example…), and none have panned out. Frankly, none have come close. It’s almost like a parent stringing a child along knowing full well that she is not going to buy the kid the G.I. Joe aircraft carrier. (Sorry, wrong blog.) Still, I can’t prevent myself from getting excited every time I hear of one of these bills. It’s just so darn promising, in theory. It’s that hope that comes from the promise of the unknown. And while intellectually I know all of these bills are long shots, I can’t help but hope this is the one that pans out. So here’s to hoping, and to never giving up on the collector’s edition Millennium Falcon.
Tag: barney frank
We all clamor for legalized online poker. Well, at least that’s a safe assumption if you’re reading this site. So at first blush the news that the Congress is considering a new bill that would legalize and regulate (via licenses) online poker would seem like a great idea. Heck, even Rep. Barney Frank supports it. But after looking into the legislation a bit more, I’m not so sure I agree. Not yet. There’s a spectrum that ranges from complete no-holds barred, wild wild west online poker to the strict outlawing of even talking about the subject. The middle is full of proposals that would legalize online poker to some extent. The key for me is where is the line between what I would accept (not just want) and what I would not. How much am I willing to sacrifice to get online poker. I’m pretty sure I’m willing to give up the use of credit cards as a funding mechanism (as the current bill mandates). I’m even willing to agree to licenses (though that means less competition and innovation — the old capitalism argument). But what happens if the government limits the number of hours, or times, I can play? What if the tax rate is 50%. What if…? When this internal discussion I’m having ends, I’ll likely side in favor of this new bill. But it’s getting closer by the day. And even I, someday soon, may have to put my money where my mouth is — and walk away from the virtual felt.
The PPA has reported that Representative John Campbell (R-CA) is set to introduce legislation to Congress that would license and regulate internet poker. The bill, drafted in conjunction with Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), would eliminate the 15-month blackout period and tweak other provisions of previously introduced legislation. Rep. Campbell is not a complete newcomer to this field. He introduced an amendment to Rep. Frank’s legislation last term that would, among other things, enhance protections against underage gambling. His amendment was approved by a voice vote. While this is a very early development, it is a positive development nonetheless. Get excited! Even if it is an emotional rollercoaster.
By now it’s old news: the Republican party, in a historic comeback, won control of the House and made inroads in the Senate. What you may not have heard yet is how the election results might affect the chance that the UIGEA will be repealed, or at least have its effect mitigated. Wish I could write with better news, but I just can’t. It’s predominantly bad. Representative Barney Frank was re-elected, but because the Democrats lost control of the House he almost certainly will lose his chairmanship of the prestigious and powerful House Financial Services Committee. That’s the committee leading the push to repeal the UIGEA. Devastating news. To add insult to injury, Spencer Bachus (R-AL), an ardent opponent of legalizing online poker, likely will be the new committee chairman. On top of that, UIGEA sponsor Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) was re-elected to another two years.
But there is a glimmer of hope… Online poker supporters Shelley Berkley (R-NV) and Jim McDermott (D-WA), the latter of whom recently sponsored the tax companion bill to Frank’s legislation, were re-elected.
You never know how politics will develop. So it’s not time to revolt. But probably best to get ready to vote in 2012.
As you may have heard by now, the U.S. federal government is considering requiring financial institutions to record the from where and to where details of EVERY electronic transfer. This would be an immense burden on the banks. Putting aside the downside of how the banks would pass the cost on to the consumer…many in the poker world are nervous that this proposed law would spell the end of U.S. online poker, because the banks would know exactlywhich transactions are related to online poker, and thus violative of the UIGEA. This is a legitimate concern.
But there is another view espoused by at least one author/group. That view is that the proposed legislation would actually help poker players. The thinking is that since the original purpose of the UIGEA was to counter illegal drug and terrorist activities, by being able to mark the online poker transactions separate from potentially drug/terrorist-related activities, online poker may be spared a crackdown. In other words, the federal government will know which transactions are for online poker, but not enforce the UIGEA for those transactions.
I am not ready to endorse this theory. But it is interesting, and certainly worth passing on for thought. If nothing else it reminds me that sometimes even the worst situation can have unintended positive consequences. (Kind of like misclicking “raise pot” with nothing and your opponent folding.)
Looks like another Congressional session will close without a vote on pending poker legislation. Rep. Barney Frank is not optimistic — in fact, he’s downright pessimistic — that the House will vote on H.R. 2267 prior to the mid-term elections. And who knows what the composition of the new House will be, or its priorities. When will the madness end…?
Here is a summary of federal and state gambling legislation prepared by two partners at the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. For all you non-lawyers out there, Skadden is one of the preeminent law firms in the world, perhaps the best. Akin to what Ivey is to poker. Sadly, Skadden’s conclusion is that progress will be “incremental” and likely will occur on a state level before a nationwide resolution is reached.
Congress returns to session next week. Among the legislation that might be considered is Rep. Barney Frank’s H.R. 2267 effort to legalize/regulate online poker. Could be a pivotal time in online poker history. If you’re so inclined, pick up the phone or the mouse and contact your representative. Let him/her know your stance on the bill.
The Commerce Casino in California, the largest poker room in the U.S., and a mecca for west coast poker enthusiasts, recently stated its opposition to H.R. 2267, Rep. Barney Frank’s legislation that would legalize and regulate online poker. I have two main reactions to this stance. First, a business has every right to, in fact is designed to, do what is in its best economic interest. Second, opposing the legislation is short-sighted.
I’m assuming that the Commerce Casino stance is premised on a belief that more people playing online will mean fewer people in its establishment. Which translates to less rake and concessions. In other words, less revenue. If this was true, the Commerce’s position would be correct. But I do not believe it to be true. Legalizing online poker will expand the pie. Its tide will rise all boats. Or whatever metaphor you prefer. Legalization likely will result in more people interested in and playing poker than are now. Initially, most of these new players will be online — that is the intention of the law after all. But as we all know, even the staunchest of online poker advocates dabble in live poker from time to time. So, if more people are playing poker online, it stands to reason that eventually (and probably soon) there should be an increase in live players as well. Being the largest poker room in the country, and in California to boot, the Commerce should receive a significant portion of the increased action. To vote against legalizing online poker is myopic.
It is myopic for another reason. Commerce regulars are revolting against the casino’s stance and threatening to boycott the poker room. Apparently, live poker players enjoy online poker as well (who knew!). Or at least commiserate with their online compatriots. The Commerce’s stance is costing it business even before online poker is legalized.
Poker is one community. Regardless of whether you prefer online or live. It’s similar to how Democrats and Republicans are all Americans. Our similarities are greater than our differences. Poker has been under attack for some time. All poker players should stand united. Doing so will help all. (I mean, can you just imagine the influx of fresh meat for the Commerce Casino sharks? It might be like 2003-05 –the Golden Age — all over again.)
**FYI — I will be on vacation next week. I’ll try to post while away, but do not yet know if I will have internet access. If I don’t, I will post soon after my return as I know you will be chomping at the bit. Have a great Labor Day!
As promised, here’s the link to the panel discussion on online poker law. (It’s actually a link to the Cardrunners page from which you can listen or download it, for all you poker playing lawyers on the go.) I’m not putting it up there with season one of Mad Men just yet, but it is quite interesting and controversial (at least to many Congresspeople).