Online gambling ban debate rolls on

Online gambling's new ally Congressaman Robert Wexler is planning a bill that will seek to exclude online poker and various other online games from the US’s internet gambling ban, claiming that they should be classed as “skill games”.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed by congress last year, and in effect, banned US customers from playing at online casinos and poker rooms. However, Wexler, believes his new bill should allow Americans to play poker and games such as bridge, chess and mahjong.

"It allows Americans to play poker online as they should have every right to do," Josh Rogin, a spokesman for Wexler said yesterday.

"You win and lose based on your ability. It's a deserving distinction."

Wexler will put his bill forward today, the day before a hearing on the online gambling is debated in the House Financial Services Committee, chaired by the biggest critic of the ban, Barney Frank. It is believed that several executives from the top payment processors will also be at the hearing.

Frank supports Wexler’s intentions but doesn’t believe that categorising games into skill and non-skill is the way forward. He simply believes that the UIGEA is "the stupidest law ever passed" - a point widely supported by the online gambling industry.

Wexler’s argument is similar to that of Derek Kelly, owner of the Gutshot Poker Club, London. He argued that poker was a game of skill and should be exempt from UK gambling laws that specify a licence to be held for games of chance. However, Kelly was unsuccessful in his argument and was fined more than £23,000 for holding unlicensed poker games.

Editor, - 2007-06-07 11:31:45

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