Thursday, October 05, 2006

How the IGP was passed...

a pretty good article from CBS News here. Some excerpts:

All of this came to a screeching halt last weekend, when an unexpected confluence of political events led Congress to stick a provision into a port security bill at the 11th hour — one that's designed to shut down Internet gaming in the United States.

There were no hearings and no debate in the Senate, originally created by the Constitutional framers to be the "world's greatest deliberative body," where the potential passions of the mob as expressed by the larger, more populist House of Representatives, would be slowed down and moderated by the careful consideration intended by the rules of the Senate.

Not this time.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., concerned that his involvement with the discredited Jack Abramoff (lobbyist for Indian gaming interests) might jeopardize his re-election prospects in November, instructed the House leadership to pass a bill restricting Internet gaming in the United States — no matter what it took. The House did just that.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., who would love to run for President in 2008, was eager to do the same in the Senate to show the vocal Christian right wing of his party that he shares their aversion to gambling. (Remember the Reagan days, when the conservative wing of the Republican Party won elections by railing against big government meddling in people’s lives? I guess those folks will have to vote Democratic now.)

But Frist could not move a bill through committee and onto the floor prior to the November elections. So he found a way to slide a provision into an unrelated bill designed to increase security at America’s ports, without any hearings or debate. At the last moment, just before Congress recessed so Hastert and Frist and their colleagues could go home to campaign for re-election, the Senate passed the port security bill, including the Internet gaming provisions.,,

...Technically, the new law does not make it illegal to play poker on the Internet. Instead, it makes it illegal for any bank, credit card company or other financial intermediary to process transfers to or from an Internet gaming site.

In other words, there is no practical, safe way to legally deposit money into your PokerStars account to play in a tournament or take money out if you win.

The word on the street is that three of the largest Internet poker sites — PokerStars, Party Poker (note from Fred: already happened with Party) and Pacific Poker — will shortly announce that they are withdrawing from the U.S. market. The last of the major sites, Full Tilt Poker, is on the fence about what to do....

...I predict things will not stay this way for long. Once the election is over, those with an economic interest in the poker industry (including the banks and credit-card companies) will prevail on Congress to replace this hastily contrived political fix with a more sensible legislation that legalizes, regulates and taxes online gaming....
I hope the writer, Ken Adams, is right, with that last opinion. But it's a helluva lot harder to get a law changed than to get it enacted...

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