SBD/Issue 24/Law & Politics

President Bush Signs Unlawful Internet Gambling Act

President Bush Signs Unlawful Internet
Gambling Enforcement Act Into Law
President Bush on Friday signed into law the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, “which prohibits online gamblers from using credit cards, checks and electronic fund transfers to place and settle bets,” according to Frank Ahrens of the WASHINGTON POST in a front-page piece. An estimated 23 million Americans wagered an estimated $6B last year, and “while proponents decried the effects of gambling on society, opponents pointed to the enormous popularity of Internet gambling and compared the new law to the Prohibition amendment of 1919.” The law, which was attached to a port-security bill, “is potentially crippling to a worldwide industry,” and some are “comparing it to Congress banning the sale of” foreign vehicles. Already, several online wagering businesses have pulled their U.S. operations and some “have collapsed, including publicly traded companies in Britain, where online betting is legal and regulated.” Ahrens noted that “instead of targeting specific games, such as criminalizing blackjack but not fantasy sports leagues, the new law seeks to block the financial transactions that fuel them.” The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) said that it would ask Congress to exempt poker, which the group considers “a game of skill, not chance” (WASHINGTON POST, 10/14). PPA President Michael Bolcerek said of having poker exempted, “We believe that we have a good shot at that. We need to do the right things in a short period of time. Poker players need to unite. If they really care about it, they can become a very potent political force” (ESPN.com, 10/13).

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