The lobbying efforts to get Online Poker legalized in the country are only getting stronger. Poker lobbyists are backed by the multi-million dollar offshore gambling companies which are based in Antigua, Malta and other foreign sanctuaries. The lobbying efforts have been successful to some extent with the Obama administration agreeing to delay the implementation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) til June 2010. This has given some reprieve to online gaming operators who argue that if gaming is regularized in the United States it could generate billions of dollars of tax for the Administration. However not all are convinced. Opponents argue that online gambling would increase crime rate, threaten children and increase the overall percentage of Americans addicted to gambling. Some of the major opponents are National Football League, Focus on the Family and Republican Senators like Jon Kyl from Arizona.
The primary support for legalizing online gambling are from Rep. Barney Frank (Mass.) and other Democrats who are leaving no stone unturned to legalize online gambling in the United States. Till this time online gaming lobbyists have spent more than $4 million in lobbying efforts to convince lawmakers that prohibition of online gaming is not a great idea. Other supporters include former Republican senator Alfonse M. D’Amato (N.Y.), chairman of the Poker Players Alliance who is the Chairman of the Poker Players Alliance. The Poker Players Alliance has 1.2 million members and funded by the Interactive Gaming Council, a Canada-based trade group for offshore gambling firms. John Papas, Executive Director of the Poker Players Alliance feels that prohibition is not going to succeed in any of the objectives for which it is intended. Another strong supporter of online gambling is Richard A. Gephardt whose firm is lobbying for PokerStars, a large poker gambling firm based in the Isle of Man.
The opposition to online gaming is also very vociferous and strong. It includes the four major US sports leagues, religious groups and some casinos. Their argument states that online gambling and poker will take gambling right into the living rooms of Americans which is a dangerous proposition. It is fair as long as gambling is confined to ‘brick and mortar’ casinos or a lottery store. In US online gambling is illegal under a 1961 law which was focused on bookies using telephone lines for taking bets. The UIGEA is aimed to iron out any ambiguities that are present with Internet gambling. The new law will prevent banks from accepting credit card payments, checks or any other form of electronic payment related to online gambling. However, the hard lobbying by Poker Alliance and even the financial institutions has put it on hold til June ’10. Though the Obama administration is officially neutral on the issue, it needs to be seen which direction the boat sails after June.