Online Poker Regulation Bill Moves Forward with Committee Meeting
After six weeks of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which is meant to restrict Americans’ ability to participate in online gambling, another step in the movement to regulate and tax online poker is set for Wednesday, July 21. Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass) is sponsoring bill HR 2267 called the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act or the anti-UIGEA bill and has set the meeting to try and keep the ball rolling on the legislation.
What the Goal of Barney Frank’s Anti-UIGEA Bill Is
Barney Frank has been the most outspoken public servant in favor of regulating online gambling and therefore the most popular online poker industry. His bill was created to help free up all the restrictions the UIGEA instituted when it finally went into effect June 1st. The goal of the meeting is to move forward on the possibility of finally regulating online gambling in attempts at gaining tax dollars that are estimated to run into the billions every year, while the UIGEA has stopped the possibility of gaining any taxes.
The UIGEA was created not to make online poker illegal but instead attempted to make depositing on an overseas online poker room tougher. The law loosely states that it is illegal for a “financial institution” (i.e., bank, credit card company, etc.) to transfer the money to a U.S. resident to an online gambling site. Therefore it doesn’t make gambling online illegal, just the transferring of money online for the intention of gambling, and even then only the financial institutions are at risk of government action. The online poker player is merely inconvenienced.
Does this Committee Meeting Mean Anything for Poker Players?
While it may seem that having another committee meeting is a good sign, it may simply be a way of passing the time for the proposed bill without real action. The schedule for the committee meeting shows that it is set as only a half-day meeting after lunch. All other committee meetings about pushing through an anti-UIGEA bill have been full day affairs. The only shining light about the meeting is that it will more than likely be reflective of the last few government meetings on the bill. There is an overall agreement that the UIGEA should be repealed, but everyone is arguing on how the tax money should be spent.
What truly needs to occur is a bill markup meeting where Barney Frank’s bill is altered to fit the needs and wants of those on the House Financial Services Committee. This would be the first step towards getting a full vote on the bill and being passed into law. What makes the whole regulation rather useless at this point is that even though the UIGEA went into effect in June, nothing of note has changed for American’s wishing to deposit money online.
The online poker industry adjusted to the UIGEA years before the law being enacted, but the only thing that happened was that many popular poker rooms such as PartyPoker left the U.S. market and a few choice took over the industry by staying open to U.S. based players. Players have yet to have significant trouble with depositing money on an online poker room. For the most part, the anti-UIGEA bill will create taxation for the U.S. government and more check and balances on online poker rooms. But all of this remains to be seen as this next committee meeting on July 21 might be the next major action in the story of online gambling regulation.