Last week on Bloomberg TV John Pappas, the Executive Director of the Poker Players Alliance told US viewers that the chances of the Harry Reid Online Poker Bill being passed, before Congress goes over to Republican control early in 2011, would have to be a “Christmas miracle’. This was during a four minute documentary segment entitled “The High Stakes of Internet Poker”.
Pappas believes that congress is missing a valuable “window of opportunity” and to get this bill passed sooner than later would be best – but that 2011 is going to have to be their next best venue. Legalizing and regulating internet poker has featured big in the news in recent times and the US appears to have no sense of urgency with regards to this form of gambling entertainment. In the meanwhile billions of dollars worth of online poker chips flying across the Atlantic and into the pockets of offshore (supposedly illegal”) operators. It is believed that Reid wished the language of the bill to coincide with the tax relief act, which has already been signed into law by President Barack Obama. The “lame duck” session of congress expired last Friday and at that time the question of gays in the military was still being tackled.
When Congress switches to Republican Control in January 2011, members who have taken a pro-online gambling position lose their power. Barney Frank who is pro-gambling as well as chairman of the Financial Services Committee may just have his hands tied.
With the passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) back in 2006, the Federal Government attempted to put protections in place which would prohibit online gambling in its enterity – this has not happened. Although there are many operators who in deference to the Act, do not offer services to US online gamblers, online poker players alone in the US, number at approximately 15 million! Pappas expressed the concern that since the passing of UIGEA, more Americans than ever before are still playing these games and any income that may have ordinarily passed into government coffers is in fact enriching offshore operators. He said that he cannot understand the reluctance, whether Republican or Democrat, not to have online poker legalized without any further ado.
Online poker will not be lost in the political fray, because there are so many US residents playing this game, and more coming online every day. Apart from the fact of revenues and tax revenues that this activity creates, there is also the job creation aspect which is vitally important. Month-on-month the US employment rate was still rising and offering online poker and other gambling games will eventually create a wide range of high-paying, high-tech jobs.
Poker is a numbers game, it is also a game of skill in which the player many win without a winning hand; or choose to lose if the player deems this would benefit them more. The chips for the US Government are down on this game and they have been dealt a winning hand – are they really so egotistical that they would seriously choose not to play these hole cards?