PPA President: Brief Analysis of Internet Gambling Prohibition Act (Attached to Safe Port Act)

First the bill does not make poker playing illegal on the Internet at a Federal Level, although it will make it much more difficult to enjoy “your game” on-line. As we have mentioned before we are immediately working on your behalf to obtain an exemption for Poker prior to the financial enforcement provisions are finalized (estimated between 3 to 9 months). This is the most important thing that the Poker Players Alliance and its members can do in the short term.

This version of the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act that amended the Safe Port Act contains no amendment to the 1961 Wire Act. However this bill provides additional enforcement powers to the Wire Act that will presumably be applied to wagering on Poker. Although Poker is a skill game and even the Department of Justice recently testified in the April 2006 Judiciary Hearing that “games subject to chance” clause may not apply to “games such as Poker”, it is likely that they will take a broad brush approach to enforcement and use these tools defined by this prohibition act to restrict your ability to access poker sites and fund your accounts as you have done in previously.


The enforcement mechanisms as it relates to Internet Poker falls into two broad categories:

Financial

The Internet Gambling Prohibition amendment will require financial institutions to monitor and block your funding of your poker accounts, whether you use Credit Cards, ACH, Stored Value Cards, electronic checks (debits), electronic funds transfers or physical checks. Within 270 days the Federal Reserve Board and the Attorney General will proscribe policies and procedures with which banks and other financial institutions will enforce this act to monitor and block financial transactions. Banks are absolved of any liabilities by the Federal Government by a “reasonableness test” in complying with this legislation. We assume this to be applied liberally given the consequences for financial institutions who not comply. Although it is unclear how a financial institution could block a transfer to a personal account off-shore, but for most players it will be difficult to enjoy the game they love. Additionally is likely to very costly for financial institutions to “play the morality police”, but they are under order of the Federal Government to comply.

Internet Hyperlink Blocking

The IGP amendment requires that “Interactive Computer Services”, essentially Internet Service Providers (ISPs), remove or disable access to internet links and hyperlinks “that reside” on the ISPs servers to “Internet Gambling” upon written notice from a State Attorney General, or the Attorney General of the United States. There is no affirmative monitoring provision for ISPs, but no liability for compliance.

The exemptions included in the “Prohibition” are for wagering on Horseracing, Intrastate Lotteries, Intrastate Gaming (where legal), Indian Reservations, and playing Fantasy Sports, but nothing yet for Poker. This must change.

The Poker Players Alliance will renew its fight to obtain separate treatment for a great game of skill, poker, and a community game. In then next several months, this will be our focus, to ensure that Poker is protected from this outrageous intrusion into the lives of 70 Million poker players.

Long term we seek to have Poker affirmatively legalized, licensed, regulated and taxed on a Federal level. You have our commitment on this.

Regards,
Michael Bolcerek
President
Poker Players Alliance

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