In the past few years, online gaming has exploded due to the rapid rise in popularity of online poker. Online poker has really become popular since Chris Moneymaker's win at the 2003 World Series of Poker, and many people aren't familiar with the history of online gaming before that. Myself, I became involved in the online gaming industry since the late 90's, and have seen certain elements in the government try to pass this online gambling prohibition before, and I was much more worried about it than I am now.
You have to understand that this is almost a yearly thing. Senator Kyl introduced the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act of 1997; it failed. Rep Goodlatte introduced the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act of 1997; it failed. In 1998, The Kyl gambling bill made it all the way through a Senate Judiciary Committee vote but was never signed into law, likely because the Justice Department called the bill "too broad" to be constitutional. In 1999, the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act almost became a reality, receiving approval by the Senate but dying in conference due to enforcement issues, and also because the House was preoccupied with the Clinton impeachment. Since then, the bill has been re-introduced on almost a yearly basis, only to be struck down by lobbyists and the fact that they usually run out of time each year before a new session begins.
So, am I saying that the bill won't pass just because it hasn't passed before? Not at all. It's just important to note that the bill has come much closer to passing before.
As an online player, you should always be worried about this type of legislation, but I don't believe in the doomsday scenario that some people are floating out there. I do not believe that this bill will get voted into law this year. I would lay 100-1 that it doesn't get signed into law. Why?
1) Lack of time. This is the biggest advantage that we as poker players have right now, in that this bill is not a high priority for the Senate, and when you consider the summer holiday for the Senate in August and the fact that from Thanksgiving on the Senate is basically done for the year, they don't have a lot of time remaining to pass this bill. The dangerous month is October. If they don't get this signed into law by the end of October, then there is basically no chance of it getting signed into law in 2006, as there will be more pressing bills that need to get worked out before the session ends, such as budget bills. Time is definitely not on the gambling bill's side.
2) Over 20 million people play poker online, including celebrities, top businessmen, etc. That's a lot of upset people if this online gambling prohibition bill does actually get passed.
3) The Republicans have shown their base that they do wanted online gaming to be banned by passing it through the House. Now, they will focus on other more important issues, as they know that this bill will be much harder to get through the Senate.
4) Harry Reid, senator from Nevada. Casinos want online gaming regulation, not an outright ban. Democratic leader of the Senate, you can bet that Reid will do his best not to see this bill signed into law. While casinos do not like their online gambling competition, they also don't want to see a potential major revenue stream eliminated.
This is why, I do not believe that this bill will be signed into law in 2006, or anytime soon.
Filed Under: Poker Legislation