UPDATE: Pros voice opinions about UIGEA

PokerListings.com has contacted several of poker's leading pros for their opinions, feelings and predictions regarding the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) by the U.S. Congress Sept. 30, legislation which prohibits U.S. banks from processing payments to overseas Internet gambling venues, among other things.

While the effects of the law are still being assessed by the poker industry, it is clear that it may very well change the nature of poker as we know it today. As such, PokerListings.com thought it most relevant to contact today's most recognizable and respected poker players and personalities for their personal thoughts about this new legislation.

Some of the pros contacted declined to comment given the sensitive nature of their positions as ambassador's for leading online poker rooms, as well as due to other business relationships and agreements they have undertaken.

This article will be updated continuously. New statements will be marked with stars.

Phil Gordon:

"Frist's last minute addition of this amendment to a completely unrelated bill should be seen by all poker players as an underhanded, purely political move designed solely to shore up Frist's dwindling right-wing, out-of-touch, conservative base.

"Should Frist run for President in 2008, I'm sure there are 20+ million online poker players that will be sure to let him know how unhappy we are about his politics and tactics. I'll be one of them. This is a complete injustice and infringement on our civil liberties."

Barry Greenstein:

"Although I am a professional poker player, I am not a staunch pro-gambling advocate. I have voted against lottery measures and other gambling referenda many times.

"With that said, I think adults should have certain freedom in the privacy of their own homes. I agree that it's not healthy for teenagers, or even adults, to spend all their time playing poker on the Internet. However, one nice thing about poker on the Internet is that you can't lose money you don't have on the site.

"I don't want Senator Frist or anyone else legislating morality as he has done. He has demonstrated that he has no interest in conducting a fair hearing on the Internet gambling question. There are many forms of legalized gambling, including many of the ways to bet on the stock market, but Frist has chosen to stop a form of gambling that he thinks will further his political career.

"Those who have read my book, "Ace on the River," may remember that my poker game was busted for gambling when I was younger. When we said we were going to fight it, the sheriff said, "Wait until after the elections and the charges will be dropped." We waited while the sheriff bragged to the media about the bust, and he got reelected.

"There is a similarity here, except that too many people play poker and too many people will be appalled at Frist's methods for him to fulfill his political ambitions. In the meantime, poker players will be inconvenienced and poker sites will have to spend millions of dollars to play the political game and get the law reversed.

"It is obvious to most people that online gambling, especially poker, should be legalized, regulated, and taxed. People will always play poker in large numbers and workarounds to an Internet gambling ban will be found. As a nation we need to get some of the profits from the Internet companies instead of sending this money overseas, when a majority of the revenue is taken from Americans."

Mike Matusow:

"I think it sucks. It's a stone blast to the face of the American public. They snuck it in the back door because they knew it could never pass any other way. It's criminal. This is the f*%#king country we live in. Total joke. I really don't think it will have that much affect though, as there are so many ways around things."

For information on H.R. 4411, please see here

** Crandell Addington:

"Attempts to legislate morality that are perceived by societies as victimless offenses have always met with failure. We need go no further than to review the historical perspective of prohibition.

"Our society perceived the drinking of alcohol as a victimless offense, one that was entered into voluntarily. This activity had its own social rewards. These social rewards led the public to ignore the narrow moral issue that led to prohibition.

"But prohibition also led to the creation of the bootleggers, a 'criminal' underclass that profited by establishing methods by which society could circumvent the laws of prohibition. Al Capone comes to mind. 'Nature abhors a vacuum.'

"Since the new law does not provide for penalties for individual Internet poker players, I predict that it will be even less effective than prohibition was. I also predict that it will create foreign venues for transfers of poker deposits that may resemble in a virtual world the bootleggers' operations of old. Some of these transfer venues will be legitimate, others will be scams.

"In the end, nothing can stop an idea whose time has come."

Lou Krieger, poker author:

"Passage of this law is blatantly hypocritical and panders to a small group of fundamentalists that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist needs to further his own presidential aspirations. His legislation results in another sumptuary law that deprives us of our freedom to choose how we spend our own money and which recreational activities we are free to engage in within our own homes.

"This law also violates U.S. trade treaty obligations and a ruling by the World Trade Organization in the dispute between Antigua and the United States because it bans foreign remote online gaming while favoring the forms of online gaming exempted by this new law, such as horse racing and online lotteries.

"While many other nations are regulating and taxing online gaming, the United States is banning it. What's really needed is a ban on any laws prohibiting personal conduct that does not harm others. If UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) really represents the will of the people, then shame on us."

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