I recently asked a few online poker players what they thought was the biggest negative effect that the UIGEA had on online poker. They all gave me a very similar response. They all said that the UIGEA has caused a lot of the action to dry up on many of the top poker sites in the last few years. Simply put there isn’t as many people who come online with the intentions of dropping a few hundred dollars playing poker. The truth is that people may be scared because they think it’s a crime to play online poker in the United States. This isn’t the case for the most part (there are some exceptions in certain States).
For those who don’t know much about the UIGEA I have summarized some of the most important facts for you (taken from a recent article I found in Cardplayer Magazine).
- Facts about the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA)
- Stands for Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act
- Passed by congress on Sept 30 2006.
- What did the UIGEA do?
- Made it illegal for online financial institutions to transfer funds from potential customers to online casinos and vice versa
- What the UIGEA didn’t do?
- The law didn’t ban the playing of online poker
- What were the negative effects of the UIGEA?
- Forced gaming companies to pull out of the United States
- Made it difficult for customers to deposit and cash out of online gaming sites.
- What people did to fight back?
- Over a million people joined the PPA (Poker Players Alliance)
- Members of congress introduced poker-related bills to repeal or clarify the UIGEA, however none of these bills ever made it to a vote.
So what’s currently happening you might ask? Congressman Barney Frank and the PPA have created a bill that is aimed at repealing the UIGEA.
If you want my take here it is. If poker was regulated and people in the US were forced to pay taxes on their winnings this could generate billions in revenue for the US government. Action would once again be like it was pre the UIGEA. Poker is continuing to become more and more popular, with the WSOP bringing in a record in viewership and overall participation. The US gov’t needs to wake up and realize that poker is a game of skill and it is not the same “gambling” that goes in at online casinos.
I really want to see a bill passed into law so that people in the US can once again easily and legally deposit and withdrawal money from online poker sites. However I find it hard to believe that the United States government can actually regulate online gambling. Here’s to hope that something will eventually happen sometime soon!