Before joining Casino City, Vin covered (not all at the same time) sports, politics and elections, wars, technology, celebrities and the Census for USATODAY.com, USA WEEKEND and CNN.More articles by Vin Narayanan
LAS VEGAS – The movement to repeal the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act(UIGEA) and create a regulated online gambling industry suffered a setback last month when a bill that would have prevented UIGEA regulations from being implemented until the definition of illegal Internet gambling was clarified, failed to pass a House Financial Services Committee vote.
In the wake of that setback, the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) and Congressman Robert Wexler have been trying to rally poker players to make sure their voices are heard. Wexler and PPA chairman and former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato sat down with Casino City's Vin Narayanan at the World Series of Poker to discuss the situation. And after Wexler laughingly told Narayanan to "get a life" after finding out he had watched the Democratic Party's Rules and Bylaws debate, the conversation turned to online poker.
Here are excerpts from that conversation:
H.R. 5767 and the King amendment failed in committee. What's the status of legislative efforts to repeal the UIGEA, and what happens next?
Wexler: The (32-32) vote is the strongest support any Congress has shown for an online gambling measure. It shows that awareness of the absurdity of the status quo has never been greater. I'm confident, in the short term, we'll be able to do something. Declaring poker a skill game and getting a regulated environment are more long-term goals.
D'Amato: Congressman Spencer Bachus (R-Alabama) twisted the arms of five to six members who had indicated support for the (King) amendment and the need for clarity of what illegal gambling was. There's a good chance we're going to re-introduce the measure before Congress goes into recess.
When you sit down with people, what obstacles are you running into?
D'Amato: One Congressman from New York told me that the NFL is pushing hard to keep the UIGEA in place. They want to make sure that sports betting does not spread on the Internet. That's fine. But not for poker.
The UIGEA allows for states to run online casinos and poker rooms if they restrict play to residents of that state. Recently, Native American tribes in California have been actively opposing attempts to form online poker rooms in order to protect their revenue streams. What do you think of those attempts?
Wexler: I support the right of all Americans to play online when and where they want. This isn't about special interest groups or lobbyists. This is about the right to play poker.
D'Amato: Congressman Wexler is being very brave here. He's fighting for the rights of individual Americans. Poker has been played in the White House, the Supreme Court, the Senate and the House. It's a game of skill and the government should get off the backs of regular Americans and the let them play wherever they want.