Democrats Take Control – UIGEA Still in Force

Well, let’s not start sucking each other’s dicks quite yet. – The Wolf, Pulp Fiction

Yes, it was a solid day for the good guys on Tuesday (assuming you think the Democrats are the good guys – I distrust all politicians). While I was as overjoyed as the next person when I read that Leach got sent to the political rail, a lot of people are acting as if the UIGEA automatically became invalid the moment the last vote was counted. Nothing has really changed other than we, as a group, have a new group of elected representatives to persuade.


If this were a football game poker players would be down by 10 points, with 2 minutes left on the clock and the Dems taking control of Congress is like recovering a fumble. The game is far from over but it does at least give us a glimmer of hope.

I have to say that I was somewhat disappointed that other than the list of enemies of online poker, no real voting guide ever appeared for this election. The vast majority of people on the enemies list weren’t even up for re-election this week. Obviously not every Republican was in favor of the UIGEA so this blanket, Democrats good / Republicans bad attitude is far from helpful. In fact, Howard Lederer mentioned that when he, Jesus and Fossilman went to Washington earlier this year that many Republicans, those who actually believe in small government, seemed pretty receptive to their message.

Now, I’m not out there shedding tears for any Republicans. I’m a proudly registered “No Party Affiliation” type. What I’m getting at is that the fight for online poker is too disorganized. We’ve been kicked in the junk and we still don’t even have a good idea of who’s on our side and who’s against us. We’re swinging wildly at the entire Republican Party without a clue as to whether or not we’re helping or hurting our own cause.

We’ve scored a minor victory here. We need to keep the momentum going.

I call upon the PPA to put together a list of every Congressmen and tell us if they’re a friend, foe, or undecided on the issue of online poker. I also call upon the PPA to commission a research paper on how the poker issue factored into the election results. Many races were fairly close. Some were decided by less than 2% margins. If the PPA can assemble a brief that shows how many of those races could have swung the other way were it not for the issue of online poker it would surely put the fear of God into many of our elected officials who are coming up for re-election in 2 years. Where are the stats on how much money poker players raised for opponents of Kyl and Leach? Where are the press releases?

Additionally, the PPA needs to get more corporate sponsors who are willing to be associated with them. The PPA needs to go to every card room in the US and ask them to pony up corporate sponsorship and then to list those who have stepped up to the plate. I have no problem giving my offline business only to card rooms that support online gaming.

I also call on my fellow poker players, especially Republicans, to write to their newly elected Democratic Congressmen and tell them that they voted Democrat based on a single issue; online poker. Flood the offices of Ron Paul (R – TX) [House of Rep website], Barney Frank [House of Rep website], and Shelley Burkley [House of Rep website], all people who spoke out against the bill, and plead with them to draft a bill which would invalidate the UIGEA.

Now is not the time to be sitting back and hoping for things to change. We have to fight. We may have been taken surprise earlier this year but now we can really put the pressure on. Forget these “Keep Poker Legal” banners. Let’s come up with something with more bite. Take some lessons from other political action groups and let’s put something together that fires people up. The Association of Professional Casino Webmasters has put together some amazingly informative and sharp videos. If the PPA doesn’t have the budget or creative talent to put something like that together they need to team up with the APCW and work together at getting the word out there.

Let’s find an angle that paints opponents of online gaming in a worse light than they paint us in. Moving online gaming offshore has the following negative impacts:

1) Makes terrorist money laundering easier due to a lack of government oversight.

2) Removes safeguards that protect problem gamblers.

3) Encourages income tax fraud because people are afraid to report wins and losses.

4) Eliminates incentives for online gaming operators to ensure that players are of legal age.

I mean, the list goes on and on and if crafted correctly it wouldn’t be hard to turn this into the kind of issue that even people who don’t play online poker can get passionate about.

It’s time for us to stop celebrating our small victories, and to quit lamenting our woes and to take the fight to the enemy. Use the power of thousands of weblogs and websites, millions of poker players, and people who simply think this was a freedom infringing bill and put the pressure back on the politicians to give us back the game we love. The only thing politicians understand are votes and campagin money. We must attack them there.


Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.

Winston Churchill

Bill Rini
Bill Rini is currently the Head of Online Poker for WSOP. He has been working in the online poker industry since 2004 and has held management roles at Full Tilt Poker and PartyPoker.