In an interesting interview with the poker information publication CardPlayer.com this week, the executive director of the Poker Players Alliance, John Pappas explained the way forward for pending Internet gambling legalization not passed in the current session of the US Congress.
The 110th session of Congress has only weeks left to run, and inevitably there will be pending legalization that will not make the cut-off date for finalisation – Pappas estimates that overall as many as 7 000 individual proposals may fall into this category.
When the 111th Congress of the United States convenes under a new administration, all outstanding bills not abandoned by proposers will have to be resubmitted, and CardPlayer identified three that are of particular interest to the online gambing industry:
S. 3616 — The Internet Skill Game and Licensing Control Act introduced on September 26 by Sen. Robert Menendez and the first bill introduced by a senator. If passed by the111th Congress, it would “provide licensing of Internet skill game facilities,” poker being the main game. The text of the bill defines a skill-based game as one “that uses simulated cards, dice, or tiles in which success is predominantly determined by the skill of the players, including poker, bridge, and mahjong.” It has not passed the committee stages so far.
H.R. 2610 — The Skill Game Protection Act is a bill proposed by Rep. Robert Wexler of Florida on June 7, 2007 which identifies poker as a skill game on a Federal level, preventing it from being targeted by the UIGEA. If poker is a skill game, then it is not gambling, and therefore would be afforded the same protection as chess and even fantasy football. The bill remains locked in three committees.
H.R. 6870 — Payments System Protection Act of 2008 was introduced by Congressman Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and is his second attempt at weakening the UIGEA by requiring federal drafters to define exactly what online gambling activities should be stopped by the financial institutions required to enforce the flawd law. H.R. 6870 would benefit online poker players by removing online poker from the list of what the government believes to be illegal online gambling activities. If reintroduced and passed, it would prevent the UIGEA from stopping anything except sports-betting transactions. The bill has passed committee and was ready for a House vote in September, but was stalled by pressure of other legalization. It will therefore have to reintroduced to a Democrat-controlled Congress next year.
Pappas told CardPlayer that all of the proposed bills concerning poker and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) that were introduced in 2007 and 2008 will be reintroduced when the next Congress convenes. He revealed that the PPA is working with lawmakers who introduced the bills to "tweak and change" the proposals so that they might find passage more easily. Pappas is meeting with lawmakers next week to talk about strategy.
Pappas will not be the only Hill-savvy executive working with legislators; lobbyists from all corners of the industry and all shades of interest are currently liasing with politicians to rewrite expiring bills that may have a renewed chance of success in the next Congress.