UIGEA Comes Under Fire
By Miriam H
The introduction of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, aimed at restricting online gambling in the US, has received fierce opposition from both poker players and those who help addicted gamblers.

Poker players are incensed because the consequences of the law could ultimately drive the industry underground, creating a situation similar to that of the 1920’s alcohol prohibition.

“It has unintended consequences, just like the unintended consequences of alcohol prohibition – the speakeasies (a group of illegal drinking dens in the 1920’s),” said Michael Bolcerek, president of the Poker Players Alliance.

Gambling addiction experts are equally unhappy because they say the law doesn’t go far enough and will not halt the growth of the multibillion-dollar online gambling industry.

“It will make it a little bit less convenient for casual gamblers,” said Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling. “But heavy gamblers and certainly problem gamblers … can easily find ways around the law.”

The UIGEA was quietly passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush late last year. It makes it a federal crime for US banks and credit card companies to process payments for Internet bets.

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