UIGEA Proponent Kyl Changes Views?


Sen. Jon Kyl, one of the biggest opponents to online poker and gambling in the United states, has apparently changed his views, as discovered by a poster at the poker forum twoplustwo.com.

Kyl, a Republican from Arizona, was one of the architects and biggest proponents of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, a law that aimed to stop U.S. financial institutions from performing transfers of funds related to online gambling.

Here’s what it now says on Kyl’s website in relation to online gambling:

I have opposed efforts to legalize Internet gambling in the past because evidence suggests that it fosters problems unlike any other forms of gambling. Online players can gamble 24 hours a day from home; children can play without sufficient age verification; and betting with a credit card can undercut a player’s perception of the value of cash — leading to possible addiction and, in turn, bankruptcy, crime, and even suicide.

Efforts to carve out an exception for games like poker, which many believe is a game of skill, may be considered later this year. Until I have the chance to review them, I cannot make a judgment about their merits; but I will consider them carefully as long as they leave in place the broader proscriptions against online betting.

Here’s what we know his website used to say, thanks to the thread at 2+2.

Exempting online poker would undermine state gambling laws, making it much more difficult, if not impossible, for states to enforce their laws against gambling on online poker, and would override any policy decisions made by state legislatures.

Online poker is currently the most addictive form of gambling activity among American youth. The National Annenberg Risk Survey of Youth (ages 14 to 22) over the last few years has identified rising trends in poker and Internet gambling as significant and worrisome. The research finds that online poker players are more likely to exhibit problem gambling symptoms than other types of gamblers and over half of young people who gamble on the Internet weekly display signs of problem gambling. Exempting online poker would, thus, exacerbate the two most pernicious aspects of Internet gambling: addictiveness and easy access for youth.

Obviously, the currentlanguage on his website represents a huge departure from past statements by Kyl, and is perhaps one of the best signs that online poker regulation in the United States has a chance to succeed. However, Kyl, who was first elected to the Senate in 1994, has said he will not seek reelection. So whether his change in viewpoints is going to be helpful to the cause of online poker regulation in the United States remains to be seen.

There have been bills in the U.S. Congress in the past that have attempted to regulate online poker and gambling in recent years, although they have met with little success. There is currently a bill in Congress — HR 1174, the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act — that is identical to the past legislation that has not passed. A bill that attempted to make a carve out for just online poker, introduced by Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in December, did not make any progress in Congress.

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