If we believed in using hackneyed sayings, we’d start this post off with something like, "The dust is settling in wake of the U.S. Congress’s passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (the Act)…" and then something like, "and the industry is beginning to sort out its exact ramifications…" or something along those lines.
Instead, we’ll say something like, "While Senator/Fuhrer Frist’s attempted nuking of the online gaming world
First though, let’s make one (or two) things clear: It is more or less agreed upon that the specific language in the bill does not expressly make playing poker online illegal in the U.S. However, Frist (at right, explaining how big his cajones are for slipping this bill through Congress) has publicly said after the Act was passed that "Internet gambling is illegal." So even if the language in Bill’s bill doesn’t specifically say "online poker is illegal," we know what his intent is, as well as Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), who admitted that this legislation isn’t as strongly worded as he would’ve liked. And if we’ve learned anything the past few days, it’s not to underestimate the power and will of religious right pandering Republican politicians. Unless online companies get their lobbying and legal asses in gear, fundamentalists like Frist and
Fortunately, for now at least, many experts believe there are in fact some loopholes in the Act that will be difficult to close.
Business Week believes weakly worded provisions in the Act more or less make it ineffective in preventing online wagering. The loose definition of online gambling and difficulty of banks to police third-party transactions may very well render the bill useless. And the Times Online quotes Edward Kane, a consultant to the World Bank, as saying, "The new legislation is disturbing because it forces banks to be police officers. But more importantly, it is going to be extremely difficult to police.‚Äù Many banks are not happy about this legislation, as they do not have the resources or desire to suddenly becoming a policing agent, and may step up their lobbying efforts against the Act.
Amidst all of this, MSNBC reported of potential takeovers in the gaming world, and an oddly timed $15 billion buy-out bid for Harrah’s, owner of the WSOP brand, was publicized today as well.
And in un/related news, while Senator Frist may be acting like a fascist, he has no problem in supporting fascist-like regimes, claiming that "people who call themselves Taliban" should regain control of the Afghanistan government.
While Frist now claims his Taliban-backing statement was taken out of context, maybe it was more like a Freudian slip on his part. The Taliban’s oppressive regime and squashing of civil liberties seems right up Frist’s wheelhosue. For example, a spokesperson for Frist’s crony in getting the Act passed, Rep. Jim Leach, (R-Iowa), said Monday that "gambling from your bedroom or living room or dormitory is not a socially useful activity."
Fortunately, we can be thankful we live in a country where our leaders can decide for us what is and is not socially acceptable. We were beginning to worry that we’d all start having to make those hard decisions for ourselves. We are now going to repeatedly bang our heads into a wall.