US online poker was on the verge of being banned thanks to Senator Lindsey Graham, who managed to add an anti-online gambling amendment to a spending bill that passed through the House of Representatives. However, Rep. Charlie Dent ended up removing the plan from the bill on Tuesday, essentially saving online gaming from a potential ban in the future. Poker Players Alliance, a D.C.-based lobbying group, was very happy to hear that it had been removed,
“We win. RAWA loses. Thank you for taking action to defeat this effort.”
Many do believe that it will be the end of more bills having anti-gambling language included, but as this has popped up several times already, there would need to be measures taken to ensure that an amendment like that never gets voted into law.
The Bill and Anti-Online Gambling Language
The language that was included in the bill would not have immediate effects, however, it could leave the possibility of someone amending the bill that could indeed ban online gambling. The language that Graham included was,
“Since 1961, the Wire Act has prohibited nearly all forms of gambling over interstate wires, including the Internet. However, beginning in 2011, certain States began to permit Internet gambling. The Committee notes that the Wire Act did not change in 2011. The Committee also notes that the Supreme Court of the United States has stated that ‘‘criminal laws are for courts, not for the Government, to construe.’’ Abramski v. U.S., 134 S.Ct. 2259, 2274 (2014) (internal citation omitted).”
It essentially goes back to the 1961 Wire Act and gives it the power to actually ban anything related to the internet. The act does not include online gaming, which is why casinos and poker sites have been able to accept US players for so long.
Hope for the Future of Online Poker
Seeing as how another Senator or Representative could once again this kind of language to a bill in the future, one of the ways that could be used to prevent this is for one or a few states to actually legalize and regulate online gambling. It is speculated that Dent removed that language from the bill, as a Pennsylvania representative, since the state is still on the fence of whether to legalize it or not.
If players are able to get Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan, and/or California to legalize, it would bring the threat of a RAWA way down. They are the main pushers of making online poker illegal, so to get even one would be a huge win.