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Poker Blog established in 2003 as the first stop for poker news, poker stories, and bad poker advice.

September 29, 2006

Internet Gambling Bill Revived--Updated

by Luckbox

Updated after the jump

They failed in their attempt to attach the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (H.R. 4411) to the massive defense spending bill, but that didn't stop a coalition of lawmakers lead by Sen. Bill Frist from trying again, and this time, it might just work.

Sometime tomorrow or Saturday, the Senate will vote on a major ports security bill (H.R. 4954), and because no lawmaker wants to go into a mid-term election saying they voted against port security, the bill will pass by a wide-margin. It's these "must-pass" bills that become dumping grounds for pet legislation that wouldn't pass on its own merits.

Some Senators tried and failed to tack on a bill that would protect phone companies who released subscriber information to the government as part of the surveillance program. House Speaker Dennis Hastert's pet legislation is a court security bill. Frist's is the Senate Majority Leader and is pushing the gambling bill.

It'd be easy if we could just blame the Republicans, but we can't. Our station did an interview with Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu this week and asked her about efforts to add the gambling bill to "must-pass" legislation. She told us she was in favor of the bill and would be in favor of any efforts to get it passed. Unfortunately, it sounds like the support is there to sneak it through.

So what can we do now? It's going to take action to stop this from happening, and that means you picking up the phone and calling your Senator... or, for that matter, any Senator. You have to make it clear to them that you do not support turning an important port security bill into a dumping ground for pet projects that will not get full debate. And make it clear that if they let these bills get tacked on, you will not be voting for them the next time their seat comes open. Names and phone numbers for all 50 candidates are listed below (courtesy the Poker Players Alliance):

[Otis writes] I've spent about the last eight hours on this...and just gave a first reading to the actual language attached to the Ports Security Bill. On first reading, and still left open to interpretation, here's what I read:

There is very broad language describing payment methods used to fund an online gaming account, including payment instruments, credit cards, wire transfers. So, any hope NETeller and the like are left out is now out the window.

There was some hope that poker might find a loophole if the language stuck at "games based predominantly on chance." As we know, poker is not based predominantly on chance. In the bill, bets are defined as staking or risking something of value on contest of others, sporting event, game subject to chance. No "predominantly."

Apparently, it will also be illegal to provide instructions on how to move funds to a gaming account. I'm not entirely clear on this section of the bill, but it appears it will be illegal to have a website or other means of communication that provide work-arounds, etc.

Of course, other forms of gambling are exempt, including the stock market, insurance, and, yeah, fantasy sports.

Within the next 270 days government regulators to determine definitions of "payment system" and other regulations surrounding the law and how it will work.

I'm not sure if I understand the language entirely, but there is apparently a provision that makes sure proxy servers don't get you around the law.

If I read the bill correctly, it seems to make illegal the acceptance of funds of any sort for online gaming, no matter where the funds originate, thus making it illegal for any online poker company to accept any money from an American.

The bill also appears to include ISP blocking. I need a lawyer to properly interpret the language, but I think it says, "If you know a company is running an online gaming site, you need to block access to it. And if we tell you it's an online gaming site, you must do it."

As for penalties, they are defined as a fine and/or up to five years in prison.

I'd ask you all, especially you law-talking types, to review the langauage and let me know what you think.

I, for one, am drinking. To excess.

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