Friday 13th Hits Poker

President Bush signed the ‘Port Security Bill’, which includes the ‘Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act 2006’ into law on Friday 13th October 2006. The President made substantial comments about the ‘Port Security’ elements of the bill regarding fighting terrorism while signing it, but made absolutely no mention of the online gambling elements the bill also holds.

Congress had the opportunity to create a situation that would have benefited all concerned by licensing, regulating and taxing Internet poker. Instead, they chose prohibition. Not only is this decision to American citizens as it could prevent them from wagering online, but also to the Government as they will lose a potential $4 billion in annual tax revenue. A figure that should not be sniffed at.

There will also inevitably be a knock on effect for land based tournaments. For example 613 players entered the World Series Of Poker in 2001: through a combination of TV shows and the subsequent growth of online poker this year’s event saw a massive entry list 8774 players.
It is worth remembering that the new law doesn’t make gambling online illegal, just more difficult, preventing U.S. banks and credit card companies from processing Americans’ online gambling transactions.

A number of Poker organizations, joined by professional and amateurs alike, are adamantly against the legislation and have begun to focus their efforts on obtaining legal exemptions for online gaming sites. They believe that prohibition will only push the game underground and put the American public much more at risk from scam artists taking advantage of the fact that the large and reputable companies feel they can no longer offer service in the U.S.

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