It’s Thanksgiving, and if yr like me you have a lot else going on today than to be checking in on yr poker blogs. But I did want to note the big news yesterday before going back into the kitchen to help Vera with that awesome feast she’s preparing for the big crowd a-comin’ a little later.
There was no official announcement yesterday, but apparently there will be a six-month delay before banks and other institutions will be made to comply with the finalized regulations of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. As I mentioned yesterday, the Engineer was saying he’d heard as much over on the Two Plus Two forums. We also heard during the day from Joe Brennan, the chairman of the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association, who said an announcement by Timothy Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury, would be coming on Friday. That would make June 1, 2010 the new deadline.
The delay would add extra urgency to the hearing of the House Financial Services Committee scheduled next Thursday, December 3 at 10:00 a.m. to discuss both of Rep. Barney Frank’s bills, the Reasonable Prudence in Regulation Act (H.R. 2266) and the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act (H.R. 2267).
If you recall, the Reasonable Prudence in Regulation Act is a very brief bill simply asking the feds for a one-year delay. Not sure what the status of this would be if a six-month delay were already in place, but the added delay could still be entertained, I suppose. This H.R. 2266 actually has 53 co-sponsors at present, which suggests some real support for the idea of holding off on making UIGEA compliance mandatory.
The other bill, the Internet Gambling, Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act, is Frank’s second go at comprehensive legislation designed to regulate (and tax, natch) online poker in the U.S. (following his earlier, failed IGREA bill from 2007). That one is now up to 63 co-sponsors, so there appears to be a bit of a groundswell there, too, as far as getting it to a House vote.
My initial reaction is to be ecstatic about the still-not-official-but-seemingly-gonna-happen announcement of a delay. Not just for the sake of folks being able to continue playing online poker, but for the rest of the industry, too -- including the media side of things, in which I now have more than a little bit of an investment.
My second reaction considers what may come next. It appears this idea of regulation -- the prospect of which doesn’t thrill all of us -- may well happen, and possibly sooner than later. While many of us would like the situation to remain as is, that doesn’t appear to be an option, really.
Rather, we’re probably looking at one of two futures here. We could get to the end of these six months and the UIGEA’s “Final Rule” could still be implemented. Seems less likely today that would happen, but it could. Americans would start running into trouble processing transactions with online gambling sites, and eventually a case would go to court. Some have said the UIGEA wouldn’t hold up in that setting, but we’re talking months or years down the road -- and a lot of headaches -- before we got to that point.
The other possible future appears to be some sort of regulation of online poker, such as suggested by Frank’s bill. Thursday’s hearing will tell us a lot, I think, regarding the chances of that happening. I’ve wondered aloud on here a couple of times about the question “Do We Really Want Online Poker Regulated?” While I’ve been less than enthusiastic about the idea of regulation, it is starting to look as though it might become more difficult to fight that fight going forward -- that is to say, it doesn’t look like we’re gonna be able to keep things the way they are.
Stuff to ponder in between bites of turkey and cranberry sauce, I guess. And during the commercial breaks of today’s football marathon. Speaking of, I better head over to Pauly’s Pub to make my picks this morning. After four weeks of outpicking everyone, last week I was tied for last with just 9-of-16 correct -- including three or four heartbreaking last-minute losses -- thereby dropping me back into a tie for tenth. So my team, More Cowbell, needs to get things back on track starting today.
For now, though, among the many things I am thankful for today, I am most certainly glad about the delay of compliance with them UIGEA regs.
Have a great T-giving, peoples!