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Poker Players Alliance -- June 1, UIGEA Will be “A Small Bump in the Road”

Pappas Gives His Take on the Current Online Poker Environment


Banks must finally comply with the UIGEA.Nearly four years after President George W. Bush signed the SAFE Port Act — and its internet gambling provision, the UIGEA — into law in October 2006, banks will finally be obligated to enforce the measure on Tuesday.

There has been a lot of confusion and inaccuracies reported about what June 1 means for online poker players. Some media outlets have mistakenly stated that June 1 marks the date that the UIGEA finally becomes law, but in reality, the final regulations of the UIGEA went into effect on Jan. 19, 2009.

June 1 marks the date in which financial institutions are now legally responsible for complying with the UIGEA. However, even as of September 2009, most banks were already complying with the UIGEA regulations anyway, according to Steve Kenneally, the vice president of American Banking Association.

That’s why Poker Players Alliance executive director John Pappas doesn’t think this final compliance deadline won’t be the doomsday scenario many poker advocates originally feared.

“Many people believe that any ill effect of the UIGEA has already been felt over the last four years,” said Pappas. “While I can’t make any guarantees, I do have a sense that this will be more of a blip on the radar screen than a catastrophic event, as some may have predicted.”

The compliance deadline for banks was originally set for Dec. 1, 2009, but a PPA petition (along with support from the banks, horseracing industry, and more than 60 members of Congress) asking for it to be delayed was granted by the Treasury and the Federal Reserve in late November. The new deadline was scheduled for June 1, but it does not appear that it will get delayed again.

The UIGEA does not make online poker illegal.“The hope was that we would score some legislative victory during that time, but that didn’t come to pass,” said Pappas. “One of the big stumbling blocks in all of this has been Senator [Jon] Kyl (R-AZ), who has reportedly made an agreement with the Treasury and Fed on unrelated matters and used internet gaming as kind of a bargaining chip. Because of that, it’s made this new petition much more difficult to get approved.”

According to several mainstream media outlets, including the Washington Post, Sen. Kyl put a hold on approximately half a dozen Treasury nominees as an act of protest after the PPA’s delay petition was granted. He reportedly withdrew that hold after receiving assurances from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner that the UIGEA compliance deadline would not be delayed again.

Pappas stressed that the UIGEA does not criminalize any new forms of internet gambling, something the U.S. third circuit court of appeals made explicit in its ruling last year.

While the Department of Justice has claimed in the past that all online gambling is illegal, most lawyers and virtually all of the poker industry believe that the Department has no federal law or any legitimate ground to stand on for that position. No American has ever been charged for playing online poker.

The UIGEA has put the responsibility on the banks to determine what is or isn’t “unlawful internet gambling,” something Kenneally calls “frustrating.”

The banking executive said that financial institutions will not be focusing on individuals’ accounts.

“The banks are not going to be responsible for monitoring transactions going in and out of individual accounts,” said Kenneally. “So, they are not going to be tracking ‘Joe Smith’ to see if his check, which was written to ‘Johnny’s Cards,’ is going to a Hallmark store on an online gambling site in Aruba,”

Expect poker to continue to be a hot topic in Washington, D.C.If there is a noticeable effect from the June 1 compliance deadline, Pappas believes that it will be on deposits to online gambling sites, as opposed to withdrawals from them.

“Players definitely shouldn’t fear about getting their money off sites. The law itself is only intended to affect deposits, not withdrawals from online gaming sites,” said Pappas. “Much remains to be seen on June 1 and June 2, but we’ll see what happens. I’m all set. I’ve got it on my calendar for June 2 to make a deposit onto one of my sites to see what happens.”

Joe Brennan, Jr., the chairman of iMEGA, believes the new compliance deadline could create lengthier transaction times for poker players, but still expects the sites to be able to accommodate the players.

“Players may have to get used to a longer timeline for deposits and withdrawals because of the law,” said Brennan.

Pappas believes that the poker sites are ready for the new situation.

“I think they have procedures in place to make sure that their customers are completely satisfied with the business that they provide,” said Pappas. “I believe that they feel that they are in a good position to make sure that this is a small bump in the road and not a catastrophic event.”

Card Player will continue to provide all of the latest news on the UIGEA and what effects, if any, come as a result of this new compliance deadline.



over 11 years ago

Crooked basterds? I assume that you are talking about online sites!? Must be another loser looking to place blame on the site for their own weak game. The real croked basterds are the people who pushed the UIGEA through congress!


over 11 years ago

Freedom anyone?


over 11 years ago

djbrit- I guess reading the actual articles you comment on is too much to ask?
UIGEA has nothing to do with shutting any online poker sites down. The law has nothing in it about players or the sites themselves. It only pertains to banks and payment processors. Anyone who was playing 2 years ago will remember that every site was having payout problems for awhile. All that was due to the sites restructuring their payments to circumvent UIGEA. Those problems have been cleared up and every site found many ways around it before it ever even went into effect.


oj simpson
over 11 years ago

land of the free?