I’m wondering: How many full-time poker affiliates pay much attention to the United States’ “Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act” (UIGEA), a 2006 law that just came into effect a few months ago?
Over at the Poker Player newpaper, writer Jennifer Newell makes a good case for why it matters for us to pay attention. She also nicely summarizes what factors currently in play could eventually get the act removed from American law books.
Stressing that the act has had a disastrous effect on the revenue of the poker industry as a whole â€” and, therefore, on poker affiliates, as well â€” Newell starts out by reminding us how offshore banks like Neteller had little choice but to abandon the U.S. after the UIGEA’s implementation. The effect was that the entire United States economy lost revenue not only from Internet poker, but from the banking, advertising, and sponsorship services associated with it.
What’s more, Newell reminds us how the UIGEA has had a somewhat positive on the industry in terms of engaging poker players to become more politically active. “The poker industry spoke up,” she writes. “In turn, people of influence began to speak for us. The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) grew into an organization of more than one million members and gained former New York Senator Alfonse D’Amato as its Chairman. Members of the House of Representatives like Barney Frank and Ron Paul saw the UIGEA for the intrusive, prohibition-like law that it was and began efforts to reverse or change it. And for what it might be worth, the United States elected poker-playing President Barack Obama.”
She then moves on to the three key positive factors that the anti-UIGEA advocates are most relying upon: President Obama’s power to overturn the Bush administration’s last-minute implementation of UIGEA in 2008; Barney Frank’s commitment to undermining and, if possible, eliminating the law; and the current economic recession that makes any added revenue streams immensely attractive — including, possibly, revenue that could be gained from taxing a newly legalized online poker industry.
Newell is smart to acknowledge that the success of these anti-UIGEA movements will depend heavily on “the unpredictability of politicians and the political process” — and that’s a pretty big wild card, given the United State’s often secretive and, let’s face it, underhanded law-making processes.
So, she ends on a note that calls on the players and affiliates to speak up for their rights:
“One major factor that will be necessary to sway the odds in the favor of the poker industry is the voices of the masses. It is more important than ever that we get involved, especially by letting members of Congressâ€”and President Obamaâ€”know how we feel. The Poker Players Alliance provides easy access to governmental representatives. Visit www.PokerPlayersAlliance.org for more information.”