The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act has been unquestionably controversial and unequivocally damaging to the poker industry since its introduction in 2006. Brought into law after being surreptitiously attached to an unrelated Port Security bill, immediately before Congress adjourned. Although the furor over the issue has not died down over the intervening two years, anger and dismay reached fever pitch in the last few months of 2008, following news that the Bush administration were looking to employ yet more subterfuge in order to rush through regulations which would allow for the proper enforcement of the ban on online gambling.
Some more optimistic commentators predicted that the lifespan of these new regulations would be mercifully short, a prophecy which appears to be gathering credence. In the past few days members of the incoming Obama administration, as well as senior members of the Senate and House of Representatives, have pledged to closely analyze and overturn any of the sneak rulings to which they are opposed. Oregan senator Ron Wyden captured the mood of the party when he spoke to the New York times, saying that “Congress is going to have to roll up its sleeves and review these midnight regulations because it’s clear that they are part of a desire for the Administration, as it heads out the door, to put some ideological trophies on the wall.”
Joining the UIGEA regulations among the lineup of midnight rulings are: laws that would stop the flow of government cash to medical facilities which discriminate against doctors who refuse to perform abortions on religious grounds, and rules that deny legal council to thousands of immigrants appealing deportation decisions. Should they wish to bring an end to any of these new laws the new administration may well make use of the 1996 Congressional Review Act. The act, introduced to combat just these sorts of circumstances, allows for a delay to be placed on any laws introduced during the interim between a change of power, in order that the new government have time to properly asses them.
Although no concrete assertions have been made by Barack Obama’s governing team, his White House Council, Gregory Craig, has stated that they are looking closely at the rulings and ‘will take appropriate steps to address any concerns in a timely manner’. Although dismissal of the UIGEA clarifications would not sound a death toll for the bill itself, with a significantly higher percentage of pro-gambling officials in the House and Sentate, it would seem likely that an end to the ban on online poker in America would be just around the bend.