Who doesn’t know about the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) that has been hanging over the heads of tens – if not hundreds – of millions of U.S. citizens who love to play poker online. Effectively most of us were forced to play more or less illegaly, and the poker rooms that still accept U.S. players (like Full Tilt Poker)have become a rare sight. Ever since 2006 playing online poker has been restricted or even denied for people living in the United States of America.

Now, on July 28th, H.R. 2267, the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act passed the House Financial Services Committee with a 41-22 vote. The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) that has over one million members in the U.S.A. was pleased with this important decision. The overall sentiment is that the Congress starts to realise that prohibition is failing (as the alcohol prohibition did back in the 20s and early 30s) and that a sensible regulation of online poker is the way to go.

Former Senator Alfonse D’Amato, chairman of the PPA was quoted saying, “The fact is, online poker is not going away. Congress has a choice – it can license and regulate it to provide government oversight and consumer protections or our lawmakers can stick their heads in the sand, ignore it, and leave consumers to play on non-U.S. regulated websites in all 50 states. I’m glad the Financial Services Committee today overwhelmingly chose to act and protect Americans as well as preserve the fundamental freedoms of adults and the Internet.”

Sponsored by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, H.R. 2267 is meant to ensure protection for underaged players and problem gamblers while intelligently regulating internet gaming for adult customers with the use of modern technologies and a regulatory authority. Furthermore the planned licensing and regulation are thought to bring companies back to the U.S. which in turn would mean a boost for the economy due to taxes (of a substantial amount) and lots of jobs.

At the same time that H.R. 2267 ensures the right and legal possibility for U.S. players to play poker online, it also goes further in consumer protection than the current law (UIGEA) that simply lacks possibilities of control and said consumer protection.

While there is still a lot of work to be done and lawmakers of the House and the Senate will have a thorough look at all the points in the new bill, there is already a very positive atmosphere amongst members of the PPA. “This is a great day not only for poker players, but for proponents of Internet freedom and individual liberty. We thank Chairman Frank for his leadership on this bill, and look forward to working with him to bring this bill through the legislative process.” said Alfonse D’Amato.

Some key points of the bill:

  • Mandatory implementation of technologies for the protection against underaged gambling (using commercial and government databases that are used for online banking in order to verify identity and age)
  • Daily, weekly and/or monthly limits for deposits and losses in order to detect problem gamblers
  • Regulated standards to detect and avoid fraud and cheating or any abuse of the poker software in order to ensure secure and fair games for all customers
  • Regulations to prevent money laundering and tax avoidance