Congress Passes Internet Gambling Legislation: Future of Industry Unknown

Published on Sep 30th, 2006

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A last-minute effort by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) to pass internet gambling legislation succeeded on Friday, September 29, 2006, leaving the future of the industry in the United States in doubt. The President is expected to sign the Safe Port Act, to which the internet gambling legislation is attached. The implications and effects of this last-minute jockeying will likely not be known in the immediate future. PocketFives (www.pocketfives.com) and industry leaders are shocked by the events and are now faced with the arduous task of informing the millions of Americans who will be affected. <READMORE>

Senator Frist first tried to attach the gambling legislation to a Department of Defense report, but the addition was deemed "not germane" by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), a member of the Armed Services Committee. In addition, Senator John Warner (R-VA) opposed its addition on any defense bill. This opposition by two key Senators, one on each side of the isle, seemed to indicate that the legislation was all but dead.

On Monday, September 25, 2006, the National Right for Online Gaming (NROG) first reported that the internet gambling legislation was in the clear: "The National Right for Online Gaming (NROG) confirmed today that Senator Bill Frist's attempt to push through an online gambling ban before Congress breaks for elections has failed, and no more action will be taken in the coming days," said a NROG press release. Michael Bolcerek, President of the online poker lobbying group, Poker Players Alliance, was still in a "wait and see" approach at that time.

On Friday afternoon, September 29, 2006, word broke that Senator Frist had reached an agreement to put internet gambling language into the Safe Port Act. Much of the language dealt with payment options to internet gambling sites; the internet gambling legislation did not appear to contain language that updated the Wire Act of 1961. Around midnight Eastern time, the House of Representatives passed the legislation by an overwhelming margin; the Senate passed the accompanying legislation by "Unanimous Consent," bringing the internet gambling legislation to fruition.

The legislation does not take effect immediately, and internet gambling enthusiasts and online poker players countywide should not panic. "This legislation is quite vague in terms of its implications on payment options for those wanting to gamble on the Internet," said PocketFives Marketing Director Dan Cypra. "The future of Neteller and Firepay, both offshore companies, remains to be seen." Jay Bailey, Membership Director of the NROG claimed, "From everything we have seen regarding this bill, it looks like Neteller and Fireplay may be safe." The Attorney General's office now has a period of 270 days to determine exactly the extent to which the internet gambling legislation will affect this multi-billion dollar industry enjoyed by millions of Americans.

"The best thing we can do is be educated on what this bill will and will not do," said Cypra. "It is important to remain calm and remain informed." PocketFives will continue to update its members and visitors on the implications of the internet gambling legislation. It is in constant communication with the Poker Players Alliance (www.pokerplayersalliance.org) and the National Right for Online Gaming (www.nrog.org). "Please continue to visit PocketFives for all the updates and information on this dark day in the world of internet gambling."

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