How a Bill May or May Not Become a Law, Part 5
UIGEA fixer-upper/TRO faces first vote-hurdle next week
Poker Players Alliance Executive Director John Pappas did another one of his WSOP fly-ins for a couple days — manning the hallway booth and meeting with pros — but much of his time was spent away from the Amazon and in his room at the Rio, on the phone/computer/Blackberry with Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) et al. about HR 5767 — which is scheduled to be voted on in committee Wednesday or Thursday. While getting this bill on the agenda brings the notion of pre-UIGEA poker one step closer to reality, the measure also faces the threat of being voted down and derailed ’til next year or never.
It’s supposedly an all-in push that should hold up … and if HR 5767 — co-sponsored by Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and
17 19 others — passes muster in House Financial Services, of which Frank is the chair, then it moves to the floor of Congress for a vote — preferably having shown strong bipartisan support in committee.
So what does this mean for you, the non-political poker types who are fine-and-dandy with playing unofficial WSOP satellites on Full Tilt and PokerStars? More fish, basically … and poker industry people would in some way or another have a say in what may or may not constitute Unlawful Internet Gambling that the Treasury Dept. could look into/stop. (You know, like online site owners who peek at hole cards … that should be unlawful, right?)
As written, however, the bill probably wouldn’t pass — it basically just says: Hey, Treasury Dept., you can’t enforce the enforcement act, so don’t even try! But it’s being redrafted — not so much on behalf of poker-player civil liberties, but for the banks, who have already testified that they need a lot of help before they can figure out what to make of this whole online gambling financial transaction stuff … and until then, without this law, might be forced to block expressly legal enterprises. (Horse racing, for example, is apparently running into a lot of problems with US banks, even though the UIGEA specifically said they were in the clear.) So with exemptions not being exempted, a redrafted HR 5767 will push to suspend the UIGEA (kinda like a temporary restraining order) until the banks and Congress catch up with technology, which could well take a long time nd involve international treaties … so we don’t want to penalize legal businesses in the interim.
So with all that said, now would be a good time for concerned poker citizens to send letters to members of Congress, voicing support for sensible legislation to move forward next week.
Click here to use the PPA’s Contact-your-Congresspeeps letter generator. If I’ve learned one thing since going through a similar stage in Texas and talking with the Federales, it’s that while constituent letters sent randomly can sometimes irritate a Congressional staff, targeted efforts at specific times (like now) can be quite effective, and often make the difference in tipping the leanings of a representative who may or may not really care in your favor.
Right now, really, internet gambling laws are hardly registering on the Congressional radar — even the bill’s cosponsor, Ron Paul, hardly has them included on his list of hot/important issues. That’s why getting HR 5767 to a committee vote is such a big step … because if it passes, then it helps guarantee that poker issues will be at least a small part of the national debate.