A Recap Of Online Poker Legislation In 2010

A Recap Of Online Poker Legislation In 2010

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It was a tumultuous year for online poker legislation, affecting both online gaming sites and players in the US. The back and forth of legislation that surfaced for the year is enough to make online poker seem like a risky play. However, some light was shed on the future of online gaming in the US, whereas in previous years the  UIGEA – Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2004 kept things dark. Here’s a look into what happened, for better or worse last year, and what might happen for 2011.

Internet gambling had been riding a bumpy track with massive opposition from the Republican Senate majority.  Four years ago legislators were trying to evaporate any legal online gaming without any chance of compromise.  The fact that in 2010 the legislators with the loudest arguments against online gaming were now turning into supporters shows there might be a positive future coming up for online gaming supporters.

In July, the House Financial Services Committee said yes to Barney Frank’s bill which would license and regulate online poker sites. That marked one vote in favor of online gaming on Capitol Hill, which was groundbreaking. The next bill surfaced at the hearing in the House Ways and Means, covering online poker playing. This reflected the interest of Congress in looking at ways to change current law.

This was the only movement of a bill under construction, until the  news hit that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was changing his song and looking like the largest supporter of online gambling yet to hit the Capitol. Reid’s motivations may have been political payback for his campaign funding, but his arguments of regulating an online industry using experienced big-money casinos as facilitators caused a ripple effect through congress. As he tried to link his bill to passable bills during the end of the 2010 session, opponents from all US states had arguments to bring, successfully or not.

The bill was dead by the end of December, but the support of Reid  for regulated online poker may have been passed to new Senate leaders to re-evaluate in 2011.

US state level politics also saw some action in legislation ideas.  Texas Gaming Association Chairman Jack Pratt  proposed the benefits of legalizing poker for use in charity events in live games, and online poker as a chance to increase state revenues. Washington state upheld a 2006 law that criminalized online play of poker. The two online poker giants PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker immediately removed players from the state of Washington.

Online players could face unwelcome outcomes from online legislation becoming a reality. On the one hand, it would be legal, regulated and potentially safer to bring money in and out of poker sites. However, in drafts of Reid’s bill, pieces came out that players may not like. For example, his proposal introduced a 15-month period of shutdown on all US online poker sites while the reorganization takes place. Also, a separation of US and International player pools would be in place temporarily.

The year 2010, while tumultuous to online poker players and their future, at least brought to light the online poker world’s growth. Neither Capitol Hill or state government can deny that online poker play exists, and is growing every month. The outcome of who will control regulation and what that would consist of will unfold sooner rather than later.

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Posted by on Jan 3 2011. Filed under Poker Legal News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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