Online Poker Community Disgruntled By HR 6663 Proposed To Clarify UIGEA

According to Congressman Robert Sessions (R-Texas), his proposed bill, HR 6663, was detailed to clarify the confusing aspects of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) set forth in October of 2006. However, the bill does more than clarify the UIGEA, adding implications that the UIGEA never even mentioned – specifically the legalities of online poker.

The online poker industry and community as a whole are very displeased with the introduction of HR 6663 – deemed the “Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Clarification and Implementation Act”. Even the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), lead by Chairman Alfonso D’Amato, have outright refused endorsement of the bill.

HR 6663 states: “No provision of this Act, or any amendment made by this Act, shall be construed as clarifying or implying that Internet bets or wagers, other than sports bets or wagers, which were accepted subsequent to October 13, 2006, are in violation of Federal law.”

In short – HR 6663 is aimed at defining “online sports betting” as being illegal.

However, another area of the bill states: “Federal Internet gambling prosecutions have involved sports betting, creating a lack of authoritative court decisions on the applicability of other federal criminal statutes to Internet poker and casino-style gambling.”

In short – A very confusing statement that leads one to believe the UIGEA deemed online poker and online casino gambling to be illegal. In all reality, the UIGEA never mention online poker or casino gambling specifically.

By this reasoning, HR 6663 would clarify online sportsbooks and sports betting to be illegal, but would also bring up online poker and casino gambling to be illegal. Without HR 6663’s input, the UIGEA does not define any Internet gambling activity as illegal except that of sports betting.

D’Amato stated that the PPA is “puzzled by the introduction of H.R. 6663 and by the purpose of this legislation. While we agree with several findings in the bill that correctly identify the illegality of sports wagering, the PPA remains concerned with the implication H.R. 6663 asserts in that the [UIGEA] has made Internet poker an unlawful activity that needs special protection from prosecution.

“Previous federal case law (re: Mastercard 2002) made it clear that existing federal criminal law (WIRE Act of 1961) applies only to sports wagering, and not to internet poker. Further, the UIGEA itself states, ‘No provision of this law shall be construed as altering, limiting or extending any Federal or State law.’ Thus, H.R. 6663 only confuses a clear judicial standing on this matter.”

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