5-year Anniversary of the UIGEA Becoming Law

Black Friday wasn't the first time Uncle Sam slapped poker in the face

by , Oct 13, 2011 | 3:42 pm

Many of our lives changed five years ago today, as George W. Bush signed the Port Security Act into law.

At the time, many wondered if this marked the end of online poker, which had been booming at a rate that woulda had virtually the entire planet + Jupiter playing by now. Ironically, what was supposed to be a death knell for online poker would actually be what made several of my friends and colleagues (temporarily) rich … and the principals of Full Tilt and PokerStars and Ultimate Bet (momentarily, in the scheme of things) extremely powerful.

Let’s have a little flashback, shall we … to slightly more innocent-til-proven-guilty times … commemorating this uber-significant day in poker history:

Poker Faces in the Crowd
October 16, 2006

Online poker is kinda-sorta illegal now. Pokerati wanted to know America’s thoughts … so we asked the question, How has the new law affected you?

Jennifer Cortez
Account executive

“I think it’s just wonderful. My boyfriend played that PartyPoker like all the time. But now we will be able to see the latest Jennifer Aniston movie, and we can take more walks while holding hands. Do you know how many baby showers we’ve missed because Christopher was ‘near the bubble’?”

Ghassan Abdulhamid Bibi
Starbuck’s barista

“This is total bullshit! I have been playing AQpoker.com step tournaments for two years in an effort to qualify for the WSOP and help Al Qaeda make enough money to purchase nuclear weapons from North Korea. The plan to sneak them through America’s weak ports was almost ready to go, but now we have been foiled again. Damn you George Bush! Allah Akbar al-Poker!”

Maurice Nelson
Quadriplegic

“The new law is clearly discriminatory and violates my rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. It’s hard to play in a casino when you can’t use your arms.”

Mrs. Michalski
Occasional Pokerati reader

“Dan, I know you’re upset, hon, but try to see the bright side. I think this will be really good for you, because from what I’ve read on the internet, you almost always lose at poker. Will you be coming over for Thanksgiving?”

“Choad”
Official ferret of Kappa Alpha, University of Arkansas

“Uh, poker what? I have no idea. Why are you asking me? I am frickin’ ferret. Look, over there, socks!

Jeffrey Schmollack
Fake WSOP Commissioner

“Off the record? We’re talking off the record? OK, dude, let me tell you, this is so awesome. I mean AWEsome! We didn’t have a fucking clue how we were ever going to handle 12,000 [players at the next WSOP]. And let me tell you something else … those online sites … they made a lot of money. Like billions, man. Give us two years and you’ll see, with soft money greasing the right pockets and the Brits out of the equation, it can all belong to Harrah’s. Why do you think we want that WSOP.com website so bad?”

I was working for Party Gaming in 2006, as chief editor of PokerBlog.com … There, albeit briefly, sadly, I had the freedom to hire and deploy a team to write about whatever we wanted, wherever we wanted, and however we wanted … so long as the content was rich with searchable keywords about poker. Or at least that was the plan pre-UIGEA.

In my time with Party, only one post would get pulled from Pokerblog — my semi-satirical response to this brand new industry-altering US law (above). There would be no argument or debate — the order to remove supposedly came from the very top, Mitch Garber, Party’s relatively new CEO.

“Just put it on Pokerati if you think it’s that important,” my boss in London relented.

Which I did, eventually no longer scratching my head as to why that post may have been such a big deal.


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