Barney Frank’s online poker regulation bill advanced to committee markup this week, and one of the adopted amendments concerned blocking licensing of operators who have continued to service US residents since the passage of the UIGEA. Offered by Brad Sherman, a California Democrat, the addition denies US acceptance of gaming sites deemed to have flouted federal laws.
Sherman’s amendment requires applicants to certify they have not intentionally violated any felony law in the US. A second amendment, by Representatives Spencer Bachus and Michele Bachmann, specified refusal of violators of the UIGEA.
Because of the confusing and problematic nature of the UIGEA, reputable online poker operators such as Full Tilt and Poker Stars are hailing the advancement of the bill, mark ups and all, and say the provisions concerning legality are no issue for them.
“PokerStars, a pioneer in operating online poker under stringent regulatory frameworks, looks forward to working with incumbent and new operators in promoting a safe and healthy online poker industry in the United States, as it currently does under similar licensing models in Italy and France,” said the Internet poker operator’s general counsel, Paul Telford, in a press release.
The PokerStars statement says its lawyers have given the opinion that its activities in the US have always been legal. Because the UIGEA doesn’t define what online gambling is illegal, and the Wire Act has been found by the courts to only apply to sports betting, there is no law on record declaring online poker or casino gambling to be illegal.
One of the purposes of the Frank bill is to clarify one and for all what gaming is legal on the Internet in the US. But, by trying to enforce the UIGEA even as it is removed from significance, the House Financial Services Committee has opened itself to difficult and potentially embarrassing argument over which sites obeyed questionable interpretations of a confusing law.
“Certainly, offshore online poker operators will see this as one of several adjustments in the original bill designed to create a protectionist setting favoring domestic land gaming companies over experienced European sites,” says Online Casino Advisory gambling analyst Sherman Bradley. “Infringement accusations before the WTO won’t go away without acceptance by the US of gambling operators licensed by its trade partners.”
Published on July 31, 2010 by K.C.Carmichael