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Is Legalized Online Poker in the Cards?

5/14/09 - Washington Examiner - View Source

By Steve Ruddock

There have been several crucial steps taken in the past few months that suggest online poker may be removed from the ‘banned for your own good’ list it currently resides on. With our poker friendly President, and with the PPA pounding the pavement around Washington, as well as continuing its grass roots campaigns across the country, legalized online poker may be a real possibility sooner than expected.

First there were several court rulings stating that poker was indeed a game of skill. Rulings in Massachusetts, Colorado, South Carolina, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Virginia all went in favor of poker players.

Then we had every poker player’s favorite Congressman, Barney Frank (D-MA), introduce two bills before Congress: The first would repeal UIGEA, and the second would start the process of legalizing and regulating online poker.

Finally, we had the revelation that Americans’ #1 tech concern was the legalization of online poker!

Opponents of legalized online poker will have a hard time fighting against this 3-pronged attack: The courts are for it, a large percentage of Congress is for it, and the American people are for it.

The question on most poker players’ minds is; will we return the glory days of online poker circa 2006 or has UIGEA done irreparable damage?

In the poker world UIGEA is a bit of bad joke, and a serious nuisance: The reason I call it a bad joke is it has done nothing to eliminate the availability of online poker, which is still a mouse click away from any computer: Therefore, UIGEA has done nothing to curb problem gamblers from finding a means (usually where there is a will, there is a way). On the other hand, it did do a wonderful job of pushing the recreational players out of the market: Whether out of fear of breaking the law (which they wouldn’t be), or just the whole hassle of depositing, these players have found other things to spend their entertainment dollars on.

UIGEA is also a major nuisance for serious players, since publicly traded (and therefore reputable) sites pulled out of the U.S. market; leading U.S. friendly sites to decrease the incentives offered, due to less competition. Additionally, it has become a severe hassle for players to transfer money from site to site, thereby limiting the number of bonuses a player can clear. It has also delayed player’s ability to deposit and cash-out funds.

Fortunately, it looks as if we will be handed back some of our civil liberties -that UIGEA took from us- in the near future.

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