|Florida Democrat and Congressman Robert Wexler, one of four American politicians that have introduced separate legislative proposals seeking to restructure the effects of the prohibitive Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), has described legislation he recently introduced that would allow US players to take part in online poker games as ‘palatable’.|
Wexler's Bill, House of Representatives (HR) 2610 or The Skill Game Protection Act, seeks and exception or 'carve out' for online poker as a game of skill that US players should be permitted to enjoy over the Internet. ‘Carve outs’ currently exist for online gambling sectors such as horse racing, fantasy sports and lotteries on the Internet and the Skill Game Protection Act seeks to add poker to that list.
UIGEA was passed in October when the more conservative Republican Party controlled America’s Congress legislative body, but that changed in November with the more liberal Democrat Party now in control. Wexler said that when the Republicans controlled Congress, a ‘very bad’ piece of legislation was passed.
“In essence, it's the newest form of prohibition,” said Wexler.
“The prohibition is consenting adults cannot play poker over the Internet. Ironically, the Congress, the last Congress, said you can gamble on horses over the Internet and you can play State lotteries over the Internet. I thought as really a matter of personal freedom more than anything else, Congress should not be telling consenting adults in America what games they can play on the Internet. I was motivated to file legislation once the Democrats got control of the Congress. I knew there would be a more amenable environment to do this type of thing.”
Wexler explained that he chosen to use a ‘carve out’ rather than another approach because politics is the art of analysing what is achievable.
“There are some people that have a moral or ethical issue with gambling of any sort,” said Wexler.
“I would suggest they were a bit hypocritical when they voted for [UIGEA], because the Bill that is currently in effect allows gambling on the Internet for lottery and for horses. However, I thought it would be most palatable if we said '...games of skill such as poker are American institutions, poker is an American institution just like baseball.' When put in that context I thought it would be a more palatable political issue for many people.”