One of the staunchest anti-online gambling protagonists – Sen. Jon Kyl – Republican; Arizona believe there is room in UIGEA to carve out exceptions for online gambling games; and other skill games such as poker. This about-face comes after recent DOJ action, and the fact that Kyl feels so strongly about UIGEA, he forced the Obama administration to enact the provision of this law just last year. In fact his convictions regarding UIGEA were so strong that he withheld consent for nominated appointments to the U.S. Treasury, until the Act had been fully implemented. He is currently the Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Taxation and IRS Oversight.
When the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was promulgated in 2006; he was said to have been one of it’s main protagonists. He is of the belief that online gambling is a social evil which leads to under-age, gambling, bankruptcy, crime, misperceptions of the value of cash and even suicide. Even after President G W Bush signed UIGEA into law, Kyl continued with an anti-gambling/online gambling campaign which could be considered to be nothing short of rabid – and now this about-face with poker? It leaves us not quite knowing how to get our heads around his change of heart.
He has said that because many professional poker pundits believe this game to be a game of skill; something is happening in the pipe-line that will change things later on in the year (what?). He is still rabidly anti-online and other gambling and his position change is purely with regards to poker. Apparently there are certain things he needs to review before giving us his considered opinion, but the fact that he is prepared to review whatever it is he is referring to, may speak of change in the future – who knows? Kyl will be leaving office – at the end of this, his third term; and has expressed the desire not to enjoy a fourth term. This current term of office; expires in 18 months time.
Senator Kyl’s change of mind-set may be related to the fact that he no longer needs to campaign for his position as a Senator; although it is also widely believed that considering online poker as a legal entity may be decided by its ability to generate revenue for Federal coffers. However, his home state of Arizona, is home to 22 Indian casinos and it is no big secret that the Indian-owned gambling industry is also fanatically anti-online gambling. There is the belief that online gambling will cannibalize their current business. Why this might not be pertinent to online poker, we honestly don’t know!
Legalizing online poker might be a desire expressed by his Arizona Constituents it might not. But whatever the reason may be, any support for online poker is certain to be welcomed by operators as well as the massive fan-base of this game in the US. Millions of people in the US were playing poker online up until the DOJ finally took action based on UIGEA on Friday the 15th April 2011.