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Anti-UIGEA Congressman Wrexler interviewed

Discussion in 'Casino Industry Discussion' started by jetset, Jul 22, 2007.

    Jul 22, 2007
  1. jetset

    jetset Ueber Meister CAG

    Occupation:
    Senior Partner, InfoPowa News Service
    Location:
    Earth
    A MATTER OF PERSONAL FREEDOM

    Congressman Wexler and his quest to legalise online poker

    The online poker news and information portal Poker News this week carried an interesting interview with Florida Democrat and Congressman Robert Wexler, who is one of four US politicians who have introduced seperate legislative proposals seeking to ameliorate the effects of the prohibitionary Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

    Wexler's Bill is entitled "The Skill Game Protection Act" and seeks an exception, or 'carve out' for online poker as a game of skill that US players should be permitted to enjoy over the Internet. Carve outs currently exist for online gambling sectors such as horse racing, fantasy sports and lotteries on the internet, and the Skill Game Protection Act seeks to add poker to that list.

    Describing the UIGEA, Wexler said that when the Republicans controlled Congress last year a "very bad" piece of legislation was passed.

    "In essence, it's the newest form of prohibition," he told Poker News. "The prohibition is consenting adults cannot play poker over the Internet. Ironically, the Congress, the last Congress, said you can gamble on horses over the Internet, you can play State lotteries over the Internet.

    "I thought as really a matter of personal freedom more than anything else, Congress should not be telling consenting adults in America what games they can play on the Internet.

    "I was motivated to file legislation once the Democrats got control of the Congress; I knew there would be a more amenable environment to do this type of thing.

    "What I've learned is that poker is even more popular than I ever dreamed it was. Apparently, more Americans watch poker on television than watch college football or NBA basketball, which is extraordinary.

    "It's the 21st century - there is no reason in the world why people can't play poker, play chess, play Mahjong, play bridge, any game of skill on the Internet as long as we have protections, which we do, to make sure teenagers, young people aren't on there gambling, and that we prevent money laundering from happening, and we have the technology to do that.

    Asked why he had chosen a skill games rather than a pure poker approach in seeking a carve-out, Wexler explained that politics is the art of analysing what is achievable. "There are some people that have a moral or ethical issue with gambling of any sort," he said.

    "I would suggest they were a bit hypocritical when they voted for this bill, because the [UIGEA] bill that is currently in effect, allows gambling on the Internet for lottery and for horses. However, I thought it would be most palatable if we said,'...games of skill such as poker are American institutions - poker is an American institution just like baseball.' When put in that context I thought it would be a more palatable political issue for many people.

    "I ....think that the Chairman of the Financial Services Committee, Barney Frank, has a bill that would apply to credit card transactions of all type of wagering on the Internet [HR 2046]. I think that's a great bill too. I'm a sponsor of that bill. I think that should pass and that would be a very important legislation to pass.

    The Congressman went on to outline other anti-prohibitionary proposals currently in Congress which he supported, describing Congressman Frank's HR2046 proposal to regulate and tax US Internet gambling, Congressman Jim McDermott's companion Bill that calls for the legalisation and taxation of online poker; and a Bill by Nevada Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, who is calling for a study into Internet poker for the purposes of taxing, regulating and providing protection for minors.

    "I think all three actually work well together," Wexler said. "....we've raised the level of awareness as to how absurd the current law is and that we need to fix it. The fix I hope will be to ultimately permit adults, consenting adults, to play whatever games they wish, wherever they wish it, in a consenting fashion.

    "Every American, whether they are Conservative Republican or Liberal Democrat, or anywhere in between should be asking themselves with all that is going wrong in the world, whether it's Iraq, whether it's Iran's nuclear quest, whether it's social security, not having enough money necessarily to make it through the next century, medicare short falls, education problems… Why would Congress invest itself so to create this extraordinary prohibition of preventing consenting adults from playing poker on the Internet when we know in past experience prohibition doesn't work?

    "The net result unfortunately will be, people will be forced to play the Internet, playing poker on the Internet on offshore sites where they're not secure. They will be playing on Russian sites, or Caribbean sites. There will be no regulation by American governmental structures; there will be no revenue to American governmental structures. It's counterproductive and also in my mind it violates the very personal freedoms that we cherish as Americans.

    Explaining the high profile Internet gambling has assumed on Washington's Capitol Hill, Wrexler said there were two reasons for this. The first was that poker is a national pastime in America. "Congress has stepped over the line, threatening that national pastime," he told Poker News.

    The second thing, he said was the appearance of a new [Democratic] leadership in Congress. "Under the old leadership, under the Republican leadership, this would have never been reconsidered. But under the Democratic leadership, under the leadership of Barney Frank - Chairman of the Financial Services Committee - there is an opportunity for Democrats to make a change and for Democrats, like me and Shelley Berkley, to have a bigger impact on the process."
     
    4 people like this.
  2. Jul 22, 2007
  3. Auditor

    Auditor Dormant account

    Occupation:
    APCW.org Auditing Director
    Location:
    APCW Lunar Base
    Maybe the tide is turning :thumbsup:
     
  4. Jul 23, 2007
  5. jetset

    jetset Ueber Meister CAG

    Occupation:
    Senior Partner, InfoPowa News Service
    Location:
    Earth
    Here's the most important bit, though....

    I keep harping on this, but it is very important, as Congressman Wexler points out in this quote from his interview:

    QUOTE:

    "....the bottom line is there are thousands of poker players in every Congressional district in America. If people who are interested and enjoy playing poker, if one one-hundredth of those people take a small amount of time to contact in one way or another their member of Congress and say, "Hey, Mr. or Mrs. Member of Congress, why in God's name would you vote to prohibit me, a adult, to choose to play whatever game I want to play on the Internet?"

    "The more people engage in the political process in that fashion, the more compelling it will be, and Congress will react.

    "What I think most Americans don't appreciate, letters DO matter to members of Congress. Emails DO matter, form letters, personal letters DO matter, telephone calls do matter.

    "There has been an article or two about this issue. There was an article in the Wall Street Journal, there have been articles on others, and it is just anecdotal. But I got a bigger response from just being in one line in an article about a poker issue than I have in just about any other issue I've been involved in, in my twelve years in Congress."
    UNQUOTE
     
  6. Jul 23, 2007
  7. jetset

    jetset Ueber Meister CAG

    Occupation:
    Senior Partner, InfoPowa News Service
    Location:
    Earth
    Update - part 2 of Wexler interview

    CONTACT YOUR CONGRESSMAN

    Politician reaffirms that voters' emails have impact

    In the second part of his interview over the weekend with the online poker information portal Poker News, Florida Congressman Robert Wexler stressed the importance in the US political system of voters' views on issues that concerned them.

    Commenting that there are thousands of poker players in every Congressional district in America, the Congressman said: "If people who are interested and enjoy playing poker, if one one-hundredth of those people take a small amount of time to contact in one way or another their member of Congress and say, "Hey, Mr. or Mrs. Member of Congress, why in God's name would you vote to prohibit me, a adult, to choose to play whatever game I want to play on the Internet?"

    He said that the more people engage in the political process in that fashion, the more compelling it will be, and Congress will react.

    "What I think most Americans don't appreciate, letters DO matter to members of Congress," Wexler said. "Emails DO matter, form letters, personal letters DO matter, telephone calls DO matter. There has been an article or two about this issue. There was an article in the Wall Street Journal, there have been articles on others, and it is just anecdotal. But I got a bigger response from just being in one line in an article about a poker issue than I have in just about any other issue I've been involved in, in my twelve years in Congress."

    Wexler re-emphasised the importance of contacting political representatives later in his interview, too, saying: ".....what [players] ought to do is let their opinions be known to their member of Congress. One - let them know that they're aware of the current law that was passed by the last Congress, which hopefully they think is ludicrous. They don't need to spell out in specifics everything that needs to be done. They just need to tell the member of Congress 'We think the law that was passed last Congress is awful!'"

    Asked by Poker News whether he sensed that players wanted his proposal that online poker be granted the same carve-outs as existed for horse racing, state lotteries and fantasy sports, the Florida politician pointed out that people in the United States enjoy playing poker and other games they have become accustomed to playing. He added: "....when the Federal Government steps literally into your home and says 'Were telling you from Washington you can't play poker on the Internet!' People get offended, rightfully so."

    Asked what the next step was, the Congressman pointed out that the issue of personal freedom and privacy is very important. He remarked that the idea that government would in effect create another category of prohibition in the United States should make people think and say, "That's insane!"

    "When you boil it down to its very bottom line, which is 'I can't play poker on the Internet!' that will have a big impact," Wexler said. "There will be some people that say, "You know, the Internet is the venue of the 21st century for everything. So, the idea that we would prohibit poker and other games of skill, is not only just counterproductive, it's antiquated!"

    In an apparent reference to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which prohibits US financial transactions with online gambling sites, Wexler said: "There will be a question of …most people say 'This isn't going to stop it anyway, it will just force people into a different venue that is less safe, less secure and will cause more problems than we were designing to cure in the first place.'"

    Poker News asked Wexler the very pertinent question of his perception of 'big gaming' attitudes - where groups such as MGM Mirage and Harrah's stood, and whether online poker was a business on which they had ambitions, for example.

    Stressing that he was not an expert on the gaming industry, Wexler said that he thought there was a wide belief that the current US law is hypocritical, because it exempts state lotteries which, if he understood the statistics correctly, the poorest people are more likely to engage in gambling on than is the case in poker or any other form of gambling.

    "So the terrible irony is we permitted the one form of gambling that actually hurts the poorest people, that we made an exception for where the payout is the least and so forth," he said. "What the gaming industry also rightfully recognizes is the horses were given a special exemption. I think what the gaming industry, more than anything, wants there to be in Washington [is] an understanding that the gaming industry is an industry like all other industries, and it should be treated like part of our economy, an important part of our economy, and it shouldn't be treated in any specialised fashion, neither singled out for certain types of punitive regulations or otherwise.

    "I think if that were to happen, the gaming industry in general would be satisfied. In the short term, I think what they would like to see is a very punitive, hypocritical counterproductive law overturned."

    In response to another Poker News question regarding timelines for his proposal, Congressman Wexler said: "Right now we're in the hearing process. We're just energizing. It's going to take a significant amount of effort, public awareness, and energy on behalf of the poker playing public to move Congress. Congress hasn't set a date yet....to get our troops out of Iraq. I hope we're playing poker at the same time, before we're getting out of Iraq."

    Asked to reiterate what players could do to help his proposal forward, Wexler concluded the interview by emphasising that players should let their opinions be known to their member of Congress.

    "One - let them know that they're aware of the current law that was passed by the last Congress, which hopefully they think is ludicrous. They don't need to spell out in specifics on everything that needs to be done. They just need to tell the member of Congress "We think the law that was passed last Congress is awful! You should support Wexler's bill that creates the ability for people to play games of skill on the Internet. Support that bill, and support Barney Frank's bill, and support Shelley Berkley's bill. But most importantly, to give Americans their freedom back, their freedom of choice when it comes to playing games on the Internet."

    The full interview can be read at: You must register/login in order to see the link.
     
    3 people like this.
  8. Jul 23, 2007
  9. Casinomeister

    Casinomeister Forum Cheermeister Staff Member

    Occupation:
    Homemaker
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    Bierland
  10. Jul 26, 2007
  11. SlotsWizard

    SlotsWizard Dormant account webmeister

    Occupation:
    I currently work for the Wizard of Odds
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    North of Antarctica
    I would but my guy is the author of HR2046. :D Out-of-staters may refer to us as "Massholes" but it's a Masshole trying to set this country straight. :thumbsup:
     
    1 person likes this.

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