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.