Parties opposing online poker have strengthened their efforts in pushing the Congress to impose stricter laws on online poker. For the past month, religious groups and those who support family values have sent letters to Congressional leaders against online gambling.
Many of these groups were also part of those who pushed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in 2006, or UIGEA. This could be a huge threat to online poker players and could end their freedom of playing and betting on their favorite games online in the U.S.
These groups have observed that federal and state governments have been lenient to online poker regulations considering that the Wire Act generally addresses online sportsbetting only and not online poker. They are asking for the Congress to strengthen present laws – Wire Act and UIGEA – to regulate online poker.
One of the letters was dated May 17 and sent to John Boehner, Speaker of the House of Representatives. The letter came from 12 groups who are pushing for stricter laws and one of them includes the Christian Coalition. The letter stated, “Unfortunately Congress’ clear intent in the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act of 2006 is now under assault and we are writing to urge you to work once again to protect those most at risk from the proliferation of illegal internet gambling”. This was the first letter and another one was sent early this month by family values groups from 13 states.
Executive director of Poker Players Alliance, John Pappas, thinks that these letters do not have much impact on regulating online poker in the U.S. It also does not come as a shock to the PPA nor to anyone. These groups have taken the same stand for a long time and so their position will instead serve as a “rationale for compromise that would allow for Internet poker with strengthening for other activities”.
The PPA also expresses their position that is not far from what these groups are advocating. They too are pushing for legislation of Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection and Strengthening UIGEA Act in Congress.
The stricter UIGEA that they are advocating strengthens the present law against several kinds of internet gambling and protects consumers especially on the presently unregulated online poker market. The PPA has already tried to reach out to these said groups that are against online poker, but they seem to be unwilling to accept regulated internet gambling. Pappas indicated that these groups would rather have Internet gambling out of sight and out of their minds rather than have it regulated.
Members of the House of Representatives sympathize with these groups and that means that there potentially is a danger of revising and strengthening the UIGEA and ban online poker. With this Pappas stated that supporters of online poker games should be aware of it and should try to defeat it.
At present, there is a very vocal and organized poker community in the U.S. There are also several legislators who support creating laws that will regulate online poker and Internet gambling in general.