Wexler (D-FL) Introduces Bill to Carve Out Poker From UIGEA

by Lou on June 9, 2007

Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL), pictured right, introduced The Skill Game Protection Act (H.R. 2610) on Thursday. His bill seeks to carve out poker and other “skill games” such as bridge, chess and mahjong games from the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) passed by Congress in October, 2006.

According to Wexler’s spokesperson, Josh Rogin, “It allows Americans to play poker online as they should have every right to do.”

The Skill Game Protection Act would amend the 1961 Federal Wire Act to distinguish games based on skill from sports betting, which was the thrust of that law, as well as from games of chance. Wexler’s Skill Game Protection Act is the third House bill introduced in the last five weeks to address online gaming and UIGEA. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) was first out of the box, introducing the Internet Gambling Regulation Enforcement Act (H.R. 2046) in April.

A month later, in May, Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV) introduced H.R. 2140 that would mandate a study of internet gaming by the National Academy of Sciences.

The Poker Players’ Alliance announced its support of Wexler’s bill. “Congressman Wexler’s legislation is necessary to provide equitable treatment for true games of intellect and competitions among individuals,” said the PPA’s Al D’Amato, who added, “This skill based competition is the true spirit of the game, and the reason for its popularity whether it is played at the World Series of Poker, over the internet or at your kitchen table.”

Wexler’s bill was introduced one day before the House Financial Services Committee, chaired by Barney Frank, held a hearing on Frank’s Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act of 2007, a bill that seeks exemption to the ban on online gambling for properly licensed operators.

“The real issue,” said Wexler, “is adults that want to gamble on games of skill, in particular, like poker and mahjong — why not? Why should we make it into an illegal behavior?”

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