The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (or UIGEA) made it unlawful for banks, credit card companies and payment processors, like paypal, to transfer funds from players to online gambling establishments. It did not criminalize the playing of online poker, just made it harder for people to get their money online.
Some poker rooms decided to no longer offer their service to US players, while others carried on. It did not really stop the winning/regular players from playing, but it has had a detrimental effect to the amount of ‘fish’ playing online.
Poker players and groups fighting for poker players rights, such as the Poker Players Alliance, have been fighting the Act from day one. There has been a lot of talk over the past few years, but little action to repeal the law. However, Obama coming into power has cast new optimism on the situation.
Both Congressmen Frank and McDermott plan on introducing bills to repeal the UIGEA soon.
“I expect that we will introduce the legislation in 2-3 weeks. Like last session, we will introduce after [Congressman Barney Frank’s legislation],” said Mike DeCesare, the chief of staff for Congressman Jim McDermott.
McDermott has fought for the the regulation of poker previously, when he introduced a bill last year that would have used revenue from the regulation of Internet gambling for job training and opportunities for people who had been in foster care.
Frank has also been central to the fight for online poker. He introduced the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act of 2007 which would have repealed the UIGEA. Unfortunately the bill never made it to the House floor for a vote.