Check, Raise, or Fold: Poker and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act

Gambling permeates throughout American society. One cannot watch television without stumbling upon a poker show, listen to the radio without hearing the amount of today’s lotto jackpot, or go on the Internet without encountering an advertisement for a gambling website. When one thinks of this country’s history, the image of the frontier saloon with its raucous drinking and debauchery goes hand in hand with gambling, mainly poker. In nearly every state in the Union, to one extent or another, there exists some form of legalized gambling. With such an ever pervasive culture of gambling in this country, why is Internet gambling the bane that needs to be eradicated from modern society? The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (“Act” or “UIGEA”) is only the most recent legislation passed by Congress in an attempt to curb the ongoing “problem” that is Internet gambling. Simply stated, the Act prevents those transactions that are deemed restricted from being settled through any financial institution, including banks and credit cards. It is merely the enforcement mechanism being utilized to curb online gambling. Such legislation begs the question: Is Internet gambling an actual problem, and if so, is the means by which the Legislature is attempting to quash this predicament the paramount approach by which to handle the situation? This Note argues that the Act (as well as its predecessor bill, the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act of 1997 (“IGPA”) ) is merely a protectionist statute concerned primarily with the economic well-being of the nation. It will be shown that despiteclaims to the contrary,beneficial. The fact that it is cloaked in an aura of morality rhetoric is merely a guise to bypass international sanctioning in lieu of the World Trade Organization (“WTO”).

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