11 February 2007


Jeff Simpson on why it’s unlikely the online gambling ban will be reversed
February 11, 2007 at 7:18:8 PST

American Gaming Association President Frank Fahrenkopf told me last week that if online poker players are confident they can persuade Congress to pass a law that would define poker as a game of skill, they’re sadly mistaken.

The poker players, online poker rooms and poker publishers hope that the recent changes in congressional leadership will prompt legislators to reverse the impact of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, which caused the leading online poker room to stop taking action from Americans and made funding and withdrawing money from online poker accounts more cumbersome.

A law that defined poker as a game of skill would exempt online poker from the UIGEA.

The climate on Capitol Hill is not favorable for any pro-Internet gambling legislation, he said.

“They don’t have a chance in hell,” Fahrenkopf said.

The AGA supports a congressionally mandated study of online gambling to see whether technology exists to make sure customers are playing from jurisdictions that allow betting, keep underage bettors from wagering and limit problem gambling. If the study determines that the technology exists to provide those safeguards, then a law could be passed allowing individual states to decide whether to offer online gambling.

Fahrenkopf acknowledged that even if those two hurdles are cleared, it is unlikely that states would set tax rates low enough to compete with the barely regulated and taxed casino and poker sites that now proliferate.

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