Blackjack and Online Gambling Could be Effected by Florida Elections

Yesterday Florida hosted their primary elections for the upcoming November general election. Up for grabs in the general election will be a seat in the Senate and the governor’s chair. And the winners of both could have a big impact on the future of blackjack in the state of Florida and on online gambling for the nation.

Naturally the Republican and Democrat split can be also put like this: anti-gambling and pro-gambling.

The Republican candidate for governor is Rick Scott, who is not in favor of expanding the casino offerings in Florida. This could mean that when the five year blackjack exclusivity in the Seminole compact expires, Scott might not allow for further negotiations, possibly pulling blackjack out from under the Seminoles. He could also pull back the extended hours and higher limit on poker that pari-mutuels now have.

On the other side is Alex Sink, the Democrat candidate. Overall, the Democrats have a more liberal view of gambling within Florida, seeing it as a source of income and an addition to the tourist industry, which has been down—it seems that Disney is monetarily out of reach for some families and that Harry Potter is not drawing as much tourism as expected.

And there is a third governor candidate—Charlie Crist is running in the Independent party. And after his battle with state lawmakers over the Seminole compact we all know what his stance on blackjack and casinos in that state is. Maybe next time he will be able to definitely send the money to Education.

Let’s not forget the Senate race. This comes down to Marco Rubio, Republican, and Kendrick Meek, Democrat. And this race could have an impact on the future of legalizing online gambling and regulating it.

Rubio is strongly against online gambling. However, Meek, being a Democrat could vote in favor of Rep. Barney Frank’s bill to repeal UIGEA and set up a structure of regulating online gambling in the U.S. If Frank has to table his bill until next year, the Florida Senate seat will have an impact on what is looking like a close race to approve Frank’s bill.

Those in favor of online gambling and Floridian blackjack players will be keeping an eye on the upcoming November Florida general election.

Barney Frank, a Step Closer to Legalizing Online Gambling

Barney Frank’s bill, HR2267, which would legalize and regulate online gambling in the United States, is taking a step forward. And hopefully this means that we are one step closer to being able to play online blackjack in the States.

Tomorrow, July 27th, HR2267 moves into markup. When a bill is in markup it is discussed, amended and rewritten if necessary. In the case of HR2267 it is intended to find ways to appease those who are opposed to it. But the point of the bill is still to regulate online gambling.

If Frank can get HR2267 to pass in the House and Senate, and get it signed into law, every state would be able to choose if they would like to regulate online gambling in their state. Having regulated online gambling not only would legalize it for US citizens, and bring in much need revenue on both the state and federal levels.

How much money?

Well the Joint Committee on Taxation has figured that by legalizing online gambling and regulating it that could make about $42 billion for the government over the course of ten years. As for the states, they would be looking at about $30 billion going into their coffers.

And I do not know of a state that does not need the revenue.

But first HR2267 must overcome its opposition. It seems that the most opposition comes from religious conservatives who feel that online gambling would corrupt Americans. In response Republican Congressman John Campbell had this to say:

“I don’t gamble. I don’t partake in it, but freedom is not about legislating what I like to do. Freedom is about allowing Americans to do what they want to do.”

And in that statement, Campbell hits it on the head. Professional poker player Annie Duke was right behind Campbell, saying, “HR2267 provides this freedom in a safe and regulated environment and I urge everyone on this Committee to support this common sense policy. However, you feel about gambling on the internet, I would suggest that gambling with freedom is far more risky.”

Hopefully HR2267 on legalizing online gambling and regulating it can be moved through markup by Frank and on to the House. Americans want to play their blackjack, poker, slots and more online, and with this country being founded on freedom, why should Americans be told how to spend their entertainment money.

UIGEA Implemented Today

Well, it is the beginning of June. And that means that the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) is now in effect.

But really do not expect things to change for those who play in online casinos and gamble online. The actual implementation and action of UIGEA does not rest on the shoulders of those of us who play blackjack online, or slots online, or poker or any other online casino game. That is correct. The UIGEA does not actually focus enforcement on the players.

Rather the enforcement and implementation rests in the hands of financial institutions, such as banks and credit card companies. Under UIGEA banks and credit card companies are the ones responsible for stopping all transactions to and from online casinos.

And that is why those who play online casino games will probably not be as affected by the UIGEA as they might think. See, online casinos are on the clever side. They use coding so that banks and credit card companies will not recognize that the funds to or from an online casino will not be recognized.

The UIGEA says, in short, that banks, credit card companies and other financial institutions cannot knowingly process transactions to or from online casinos. But if, thanks to the coding used by online casinos, banks and credit card companies do not recognize that the transactions are going to and from online casinos then they will not be able to stop them. And because they are not knowingly processing the transactions, it makes them ‘not guilty.’

Take MasterCard for instance. A few months ago MasterCard quit processing transactions in which players were trying use their cards to make deposits to an online casino. However, players are still able to make deposits to their playing accounts. This is because MasterCard does not know that these transactions are to an online casino because of the coding online casinos are using.

So I am not saying that the UIGEA does not change anything, we will certainly see its impact, the UIGEA will probably not have the effect that lawmakers had intended.

So we can all hope that Rep. Barney Frank will succeed in passing his bill on regulating online gambling. If his bill passes then the UIGEA will be over turned. But we will have to wait as he is waiting. And analysts believe that Frank will now hold off on trying to overturn the UIGEA in hopes that voters will become upset with the UIGEA and vote in against the Republicans in November. Until then it seems that we will have to watch ourselves with our online gambling.

Legalizing Online Gambling: Struggle of the Politicians

What needs to be done for the good of this country’s revenue seems to be taking a backseat to the clash of Democrats and Republicans. It’s no longer about do we legalize online gambling for revenue, but about who’s in power.

And it’s a back and forth thing.

First a review. Representative Barney Frank has introduced two bills to the House. One is written to do away with the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). The other bill is to pave the way and lay the foundation for the U.S. to have a regulated internet gambling industry. And that would mean revenue for this country, which is badly needed.

On top of Frank’s bills is one introduced by Representative Jim McDermott. McDermott’s bill is designed to set up taxation of a U.S. regulated online gambling industry.

Now comes the political power struggle.

UIGEA was supposed to go into effect in December, however, lobbying created a six month delay. Frank’s hearing for his bills was supposed to happen before the rules take effect.

So the Republicans get UIGEA created and the Democrats delay it so that their Frank could come in and try to get his bills passed, which would wipe out UIGEA and get the U.S. geared up to have its own regulation. (Republicans-1, Democrats-1)

Next, Frank’s hearing is delayed and the implementation of UIGEA is in less than three weeks. So it’s now unlikely that Frank’s bills will get passed before UIGEA goes into effect. (Republicans-2, Democrats-1).

Now here’s where it gets a bit clever. Frank is going to wait to have his hearing on his bills and McDermott’s. Why wait though? Why not fight right up until June 1st?

Think about it, if UIGEA goes into effect there will be millions of Americans who won’t be able to play their blackjack, poker and slots. They will be quite unhappy to have a preferred form of entertainment taken away “for their own good.” And in November is an election…

You see where this is going.

The Democrats are hoping that if enough online gamblers are angry enough at what the Republicans have done that it will give the Democrats the edge. With a majority, the Democrats can push through Frank’s and McDermott’s bills, opening up a source of revenue for the U.S. And giving us back our access to our blackjack, poker and slots. (Potentially, Republicans-2, Democrats-3)

Tribal Governments Not as Against Online Gambling as We Think

Because many of the highest grossing casinos in the United States are owned and operated by one of the Indian tribes it would seem natural that they would be against the US legalizing online gambling. And for the most part the tribes were. But with attitudes towards legalizing gambling softening and individual states legalizing some online gambling, the tribes are having to re-evaluate their stance on online gambling.

It’s no wonder that the tribes were against legalizing online gambling. Their casinos bring in money to fund education, health care and other government services to Native Americans. You can understand how they would feel threatened by online gambling. It’s not so much taking their business away and they’re selfish, but they are fearful of a loss of income that funds the government programs that helps their people.

But their view is changing. Let’s take a look at a possible reason or two why.

First off the majority of online gambling is done in card game s like poker and blackjack and in sports betting. In 2008 the revenue from those games in the tribal casinos was only $7.3 billion of the $26.8 billion that was made that year. So poker, blackjack and sports betting in a casino are only a small part of the tribal casinos’ total revenue. It stands to reason that they might not be as fearful of legalized online gambling as before.

Another possible reason—if online gambling is legalized in the US the tribes could set themselves up as an online operator of internet gambling they could have a whole new outlet for generating income.

But the tribes have sited that they believe that the US has the technology to regulate online gambling should it be legalized. And they have faith in that regulation, that it could help preserve the exclusive attributes of their casinos. Barney Frank, D-Mass. is the author of such legislation and he has taken the tribes needs into consideration:

“I intend that this legislation should have no impact on (tribal) compacts with states; that is, the bill should not in any way impair existing rights regarding compacts either currently in force or to be signed in the future.”

However, tribal organizations are not endorsing any of the bills being proposed right now. But the tribes being favorable on the subject of legalized online gambling is a good start.

Tribal Casinos vs. Online Casinos

It is well known that Congressman Barney Frank is at the head of trying to make online casinos and online gambling legal in the United States. He is trying to put through the U.S. Congress HR 2267, Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act.

Basically Frank is trying to make it legal for us to wager on casinos games, such as blackjack, within the U.S. It would also allow the U.S. Federal Government to regulate and tax online gambling. And if online casinos became established within the U.S., it would allow the Federal Government to tax those online casinos.

It would be more revenue for the U.S., who could use the money.

Enter the tribal casinos.

Tribal casinos are some of the most prominent land based casino organizations in the U.S. And they are, of course, against Frank and his bill to legalize online gambling and online casinos within the U.S. No, it’s not because they’re suddenly against gambling. Just online gambling.

Daniel Tucker is the recently re-elected chairman of the leading organization of tribal gaming. And he is quoted as saying that Frank and his bill are “the greatest threat to Indian gaming in 20 years.”

This could be attributed to the fact that playing in online casinos can be done in your home, without any travel. Online casinos make playing your favorite casino games, like blackjack, more convenient. And therein lies the threat that has the tribal casinos up in arms.

Tucker feels that online casinos are a threat because they “will transfer billions of dollars from Indian Reservations.”

From Indian Reservations.

You can see where their concern lies. And while I have nothing against the tribal casinos—they offer quite a nice place to play in—it seems that they aren’t liking the idea of facing their first real competition. They could face other land based casinos with their own land based casinos. But how can they compete with the convenience offered by online casinos. And rather than put their heads together and try to find a way to compete, they would rather challenge a bill that could generate some much needed revenue for the U.S.

One advantage that tribal casinos have over online casinos is that they offer a whole experience. While online casinos’ gaming software can try to replicate the lights and sounds of a casino, it’s still not the same as being in a real casino.