PPA Won’t Support HR 6663
August 6, 2008 (InfoPowa News) — The chairman of the million-member Poker Players Alliance, former New York Senator Alphonse D'Amato, says that the Alliance cannot support Texas Representative Pete Session's Bill HR6663 because it confuses a clear judicial understanding of the status quo of online poker.
HR6663 is designed primarily to determine what is legal and illegal under the confusing UIGEA, and grant amnesty from prosecution to those companies that ceased providing Internet gambling services in the USA (other than sportsbetting) when the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was signed into law in October 2006. The bill identifies one of the major ambiguities of the UIGEA — whether online poker and casino games like online blackjack are legal within the United States — saying: "Federal Internet gambling prosecutions have involved sports betting, creating a lack of authoritative court decisions on the applicability of other federal criminal statutes to Internet poker and casino-style gambling."
With Congress currently in its August recess, discussion on the proposal cannot take place, nor can it move beyond the House Judiciary Committee until September, when the politicians reconvene.
In a statement, D’Amato says: "The PPA remains concerned with the implication HR 6663 asserts that the UIGEA has made internet poker an unlawful activity that needs special protection. Previous federal case law (re: MasterCard 2002) has made it clear that existing federal criminal law (WIRE Act of 1961) applies only to Internet sports wagering and not to Internet poker. Further, the UIGEA itself states, 'No provision of this subchapter should be construed as altering, limiting or extending any federal or state law.'
"Thus HR 6663 only confuses a clear judicial standing on this matter."
If HR6663 is accepted, it has the potential to let major companies that withdrew from the US market post-UIGEA, such as 888.com and Party Poker, off the hook, possibly relieving these corporates of the burden of heavy settlement penalties, an issue on which individual managements are believed to have been in negotiation with Department of Justice officials. As long as the company was not offering Americans sportsbetting, HR6663 would constitute a reprieve for past activities.
Following this reasoning, it would seem that a company like Bodog, which did offer sportsbetting, would not qualify for retrospective 'amnesty.'