Sunday, Sep 2, 2012 American Online Poker Future is Bleak But Does Have Outs

The release of the Republican party's platform doesn't bode well for legalized online poker should Mitt Romney be elected President in November.

Basically, the Republican party is calling for a ban on all forms of internet gambling and a reversal of the December decision declaring the Wire Act only applies to sports betting.

Poker Junkie blogger Compncards tells us what this could mean for online poker in the US and what outs, if any, are left for legalized online poker.

Platform Declaration Not Surprising and Leaves Little Room for Doubt

When it became clear that Romney has a good chance to take the oval office in November, I was "hopeful" of a way to negotiate for legalized online poker by 2014.

However, knowing the history of the party, I knew that something like Wednesday's declaration was possible.

I was still hopeful that they would leave some potential wiggle room that could have allowed the bill to be angled for jobs or some relevant issue.

The declaration that the party supports a ban on internet gambling does indeed include gambling and for multiple reasons.

First, they call on a reversal of the December decision that the Federal Wire Act of 1961 only applies to sports betting.

The Wire Act was one of the main tools used to prosecute online gambling and poker still qualifies as that in the eyes of many lawmakers.

Republicans are also known as the moral majority and many look at any form of gambling as dangerous.

Despite the recent ruling saying poker is a skill game, poker is still considered gambling by many lawmakers and don't be surprised if that recent decision gets reversed.

While this isn't something many of us want to hear, if Romney gets into office the chances of online poker being legalized in the next four years (or 8 if he gets a second term, which is likely if the economy improves) drops to almost zero.

Granted, online poker does still have a couple of outs to get legalized and I will cover them briefly.

Out #1 - Lame Duck Bill Passage

Many American online poker supporters are going to really sweat the lame duck session of Congress later this year.

For those that don't follow American politics, the lame duck session is the session of Congress after the November elections which will be the last before the newly elected Congressmen take office.

A couple of bills are floating around in Congress at present, including HR 2366. HR 2366 is the Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection and Strengthening UIGEA Act.

This bill would essentially legalize poker and ban all other forms of internet gambling. Notice that this bill, minus poker, still meets the Republican Party platform.

The real test of any bill will be whether they can get enough lawmakers to agree with what we know about the game in that it is legal and has great revenue and jobs potential for the country.

My real knock on these bill floating is that they have very little movement prior to now. Granted, lobbyists may have a fire lit under them now to push this bill and that fire may become an inferno in November.

Out #2 - Obama Reelection

Online poker needs Obama to win in November. It's as simple as that.

While Obama winning reelection will not guarantee that online poker will become legal, it will at least leave the door open for lobbyists and state legislation would still have a virtual green light to continue.

Depending on who you listen to, the race is either a dead heat or Obama is on his way out of the door.

Personally, I'm not optimistic about Obama's chances based on the state of the economy and the jobs market in the country.

Regardless of how it is spun by the media and the Democrats, the reality for many Americans is that they are either unemployed, underemployed and struggling to survive.

Even if they know that the other choice could be a bad fit, many times they will go with that choice if they think it will improve their personal situation.

I should also note that if Obama is reelected, progress to online legalization will still be slow for a while as that is the way of Congress, but will probably pick up steam in the latter part of 2013.

The next few months will be potentially the most important for American online poker.  They could either usher in a new era for the game, or it could put the proverbial nail in the coffin for the next few years.

Now would be the appropriate moment for online poker to use their "one time!"