"I am not a biblical scholar," Rep. Barney Frank admitted of his inability to understand. The conservative mores of his colleagues on the other side of the aisle are confounding to some members of Congress. "But I can't find an exemption for horse racing!" The sport of kings' absence in the good book notwithstanding, Frank had a point.
The scene was Wednesday's House Financial Services Committee's Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade and Technology hearing and a debate that should've been conducted before the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act became a reality (UIGEA live blog ).
Frank, one of the UIGEA's most vocal opponents, was pointing out a common theme in America's stance on federal gambling law enforcement: hypocrisy. It's an environment where gambling on juiced up athletes and ponies is perfectly acceptable, but betting on a skill game over which the player can affect the outcome is not.
The Committee hearing was one of the--if not the first--public discussions of the UIGEA, a law attached to must-pass port security legislation and spirited through the halls of the Capitol in the waning moments of the 2006 Congressional summer session. After nearly two years of being a burden only on confused government regulators, the law now threatened to disrupt the lives of many more people.More in this Poker Blog! -->
The House Financial Services Committee's Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade and Technology (say that five times fast) is holding a hearing this morning to talk about the proposed regulations for the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act. Given technology works the way it is supposed to, we'll be live blogging the whole of the hearing (you can find the live portion of the blog after the jump).
Scheduled to start at 10am ET, the hearing looks to be favorable toward the position that the UIGEA is an unnecessary law that puts the onus on American banks to serve as an unfunded law enforcement arm of the federal government. Then again, the way things work in Washington sometimes, it might turn out to feature balloon sculptors and Hoppy the Sad Clown.
Among the scheduled witnesses in the hearing are:
Links to transcripts of UIGEA hearing and additional letters -- HERE
******More in this Poker Blog! -->
Breaking News: The co-founder of NeTELLER pleaded guilty today to a charge of criminal conspiracy.
Stephen Lawrence admitted in court today that the operation illegally helped Americans place bets online, "I came to understand that providing payment services to online gambling Web sites serving customers in the United States was wrong."
His lawyers say he was cooperating with investigators and has agreed to be partly responsible for the $100 million the government is seeking to recover from people involved in the operation.
Another NeTELLER director, John David Lefebvre, was also arrested back in January as part of the U.S. crackdown on illegal online gambling.
In case you don't have your cell phone programmed to ring and a messenger service on call as a back up to notify you every time Wicked Chops updates, you might have missed the annoucement that Rep. Barney Frank is going to introduce a bill to fully repeal last year's anti-online gaming legislation. I have mixed feelings about the current strategy, but at least it's a step in the right direction. A news conference is scheduled for tomorrow.
For more, check out the Politico.
No matter where we play, the conversation always turns to NETeller. Like showing war wounds, players each talk about how much they have stuck in the one-time payment processing giant.
Though articles in U.S.A Today and less reputable sources had hinted at the possibility the United States government had seized NETeller's U.S. customers' money, we had yet to see anything definitive.
Until this morning.More in this Poker Blog! -->
The biggest middleman in all of online poker payment processing has caved under the pressure of the U.S. government's continued jackbooting. Following the arrest of NETELLER's founders, John David Lefebvre and Stephen Eric Lawrence, the publicly traded NETELLER decided to pull the plug on its American business.
Regarding the arrests, NETELLER issued a press release in an attempt to calm shareholders. It read in part, "Other than as shareholders, neither Mr Lawrence nor Mr Lefebvre has any current position with or connection to NETELLER."
Less than 48 hours passed before the other shoe fell and American customers were left barefoot. Just hours ago, NETELLER updated its website to read (our emphasis):
"The US government has recently introduced new legislation in the form of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. To best protect the interests of NETELLER members, employees, shareholders and business partners, NETELLER will no longer provide service to US members to transfer funds to and from online gambling merchants."More in this Poker Blog! -->
Due to the recent legal developments in the United States with the passage of the "SAFE Port Act", customers within the U.S. will be restricted from depositing or participating in real money games.
As of tomorrow, October 25, 2006, U.S. players will no longer be able to make deposits to ChecknRaisePoker.com. We further have been advised that by November 6th, it may happen that U.S. players may not be able to play in real money games.
We regret that we need to take these steps and sincerely hope that they are temporary.
In the interim, you are welcome to take advantage of our 100% reload bonus up to $250. Use deposit code USBONUS when making your deposit.
We are committed to investigating alternatives available to our U.S. players and we will keep you informed of our developments.
Many thanks again for your continued support of Check n Raise Poker.
The Check n Raise Team"
NETeller has now weighed in on the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, and the news is not good. I'm not surprised, however. After all, NETeller is a publically traded company that I'm guessing makes most of its money from something other than helping a bunch of degenerates play penny poker.
What the statement basically says is that within the next 270 days, NETeller will stop making any transfers from U.S. customers to onling gaming sites. Even though it is based outside of the U.S., NETeller says it will act as though it is under U.S. jurisdiction.
As soon as the appropriate people come up with the final rules and regulations, and assuming they are rules and regulations that a company can reasonably be expected to follow, NETeller will no longer be an option for online gamblers. "Within the next 270 days" could mean next week, we just don't know. Anyone using NETeller may want to keep that in mind. Your last chance to make a deposit from NETeller to an online poker room could be just around the corner.
Again, I'm not surprised, but this will force many of us to look elsewhere. Firepay has already stopped helping online gamblers, after first raping many of them with a surprise withdrawal fee. That left NETeller. Soon, that option will no longer be available. It will remain to be seen if someone steps up to fill that void.
You can read the full statement in the extended entry:More in this Poker Blog! -->
With a stroke of his pen, President Bush vowed to "win this war on terror." Apparently, that meant making it harder for Americans to gamble online. When I think about stopping al Qaida, the first thing that comes to mind is Party Poker.
We knew this day was coming. And just after 10am ET, the SAFE Port Act became law. It's a law designed to keep nuclear, chemical and biological weapons from entering the United States by boat. Of course, if it's as effective as airport security, terrorists have nothing to worry about.
So in the end, a bill that will be largely ineffective at keeping us any safer has been used to attack our personal liberties. In fact, the President didn't even mention the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act during the signing ceremony.
What does this mean? It means some companies with whom you previously did business will no longer take your money. They include FirePay and some online poker rooms.
For example, Party Poker has officially pulled the plug on its American customers. Anyone hoping for an 11th hour reversal by the one-time giant can now start cashing out.
Interestingly, when Party turned out the lights for American customers, it also turned out the lights on what was once a ubiquitous player count at the bottom of its screen. Suffice it to say, seat selection is a lot easier now.
What's next? The Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury Department have 270 days to develop the regulations banks and business will need to follow. The language of the bill actually gives banks some protection from liability and unreasonable regulations. In the next few months, we'll learn more about the practical application of the bill.
For more information on this bill, check out our FAQ on the Online Gambling Bill.
Now that PokerStars has announced its intentions to remain part of the United States online poker market, many of you are likely planning on moving your cash there. To help you out with your move, here are a couple of links (and a special little treat) to help you out.
PokerStars isn't going anywhere!
Here is their statement:
As you are probably aware, the United States Congress recently enacted the Safe Port Act which contains provisions relating to Internet gambling.
PokerStars has received extensive expert advice from within and outside the U.S. which concluded that these provisions do not alter the U.S. legal situation with respect to online poker. Furthermore it is important to emphasize that the Act does not in any way prohibit you from playing online poker.
Therefore, our business continues as before - open to players worldwide including the US. You may play on our site as you did prior to the Act.
PokerStars believes that poker is a game of skill enjoyed by millions of players and we remain committed to providing you a safe and fun environment in which to play.We value your loyalty to PokerStars, and look forward to continuing to serve you with the best online poker experience, as we have for the past five years, six billion hands, and 40 million tournaments.
PokerStars joins Full Tilt Poker in saying this bill will have no effect on our ability to enjoy our online poker experience. Party Poker sucked anyway, right?
The passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 --hidden deep within a bill to fight terrorism -- has opened a flurry of questions about the legality of playing and funding online poker. In fact, as of now, there are a lot more questions than answers, and even those answers seem to change from day-to-day. With that in mind, here are some of the most commonly asked questions about the online gambling bill with the answers as we know them:More in this Poker Blog! -->
The following report was collectively compiled and written by the Up For Poker staff. This is the third of a series of such reports-- Ed.
Revealed in Congress' recent headshot to the future of online gaming is the unfortunate lack of understanding many online poker players have of the American system of government. While there are certainly many learned and well-tuned players in the online ranks, there exists a large segment of the online poker playing population that was simply oblivious to the possibility that their online livelihood could be destroyed.
This population is largely inhabited by the young online players who didn't bother to remember their civics lessons or suffered from an all-too common sense of entitlement that led them to believe they were invincible. Those who had staked their futures on the ability to indefinitely use their online poker skills are now left wondering whether they will be forced to go back to school or find a job waiting tables.
It was somewhat sad to see the 2+2 Forum's legislative updates post. While there were some very smart people updating all of us on what was happening, a majority of the posts were young folks who literally wrote, "Somebody please tell me what's going on!"More in this Poker Blog! -->
The following report was collectively compiled and written by the Up For Poker staff. This is the second of a series of such reports-- Ed.
It's 1925 and Billy Mumphrey isn't sick. His body is healthy, his lungs are free from phlegm, and his nerves are as settled as Plymouth Rock. Still, Mumphrey is at the doctor's office. He has a big weekend planned and he needs a prescription for fun. And some grape jelly.
As it happens, he's found the right doctor. For a small fee, Mumphrey can get the script he needs. In the Prohibition era, without a prescription, the liquid is called whiskey. The doctor calls it nerve medicine. Regardless, for a little premium, Mumphrey has what he needs. Now if he had just had some grape jelly, he'd be all set.More in this Poker Blog! -->
The following report was collectively compiled and written by the Up For Poker staff. This is the first of a series of such reports-- Ed.
The banking industry response to the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act is something in which we can take some heart. The banks were initially afraid the bill would hold them liable for not enforcing the law. Now, bankslawyers are telling them that it appears the banks' exposure is limited. While it would've been good for us if the banks had more exposure (if they had, they would be fighting harder for legal challenges to the bill), there is a silver lining evidenced in this quote.
If they find that the banks just don't have the technology to track and block these transactions, then we don't have to," Verdier said. "The Fed and Treasury are not supposed to ask us to do the impossible."
Still, Verdier said, "we will have to see how those regulations get written."
For more, check out the Banking Industry Response to Internet Gambling Bill.
Of course, the most immediate concern for us is what's happening to our online experience in the interim.More in this Poker Blog! -->