Not all Republicans are against online gambling. A bill was introduced before Congress recently by Republican Congressman Pete Sessions that would redirect the focus of the UIGEA to online sports books. The bill known as HR 6663 is called the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Clarification and Implementation Act. The bill is an attempt to give some specific guidance to the US Attorney General’s office as to which types of online gambling are legal and which are not.
The attempt to deflect the teeth of the UIGEA onto sports book is causing controversy even in the online gambling camp, however. Many of the top online gambling establishments, like Bodog and Bet On Sports, have the main portion of their revenues coming from sport wagering. They are definitely not happy with HR 6663 as an answer to UIGEA.
Other of the gambling concerns are taking it differently, however. There is still a huge market in the US for online poker. Companies that ceased services to Americans in the wake of UIGEA, like PartyPoker and Pacific Poker, would love to be able to jump back into the US market.
Poker Players Alliance (PPA), the online poker industry’s main lobbying group, isn’t even happy about HR 6663. Although this seems self-defeating, the key to their criticism to the bill lies in the language of certain parts of the bill.
“In light of the foregoing and in deference to long-standing constitutional requirements of fair notice and transparency in the criminal law, the Congress finds it necessary to clarify that criminal statutes applicable to gambling do not apply to any person who offered Internet gambling services that did not include sports betting prior to October 13, 2006, and who ceased offering Internet gambling services to persons in the United States upon passage of the UIGEA.”
Their concern lies in the implication that the UIGEA made internet poker an illegal activity that needs special protection from prosecution. The PPA has long been asserting that poker was never defined by the UIGEA as an illegal online gambling activity. They maintain that poker is a game of skill and thus not covered by UIGEA at all.