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I See Your Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and I’ll Raise You UIGEA

20 December 2010 by admin

I have already compared the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act to the Prohibition of alcohol in the 1930s. The whole thing of the government telling US citizens what was best for them—something like abstaining from alcohol will save us all from losing our souls. Actually, I’m sure there are a lot of college students who feel like that the next morning.

But I have heard UIGEA compared to one more ill-conceived government idea: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

UIGEA wasn’t the only poorly thought of and executed Republican idea. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was a law the Republicans thought of to keep opening gay US citizens from serving in the US military. It was of no matter that they wanted to serve their country, and had the courage to give up their life if necessary to defend America, the Republicans didn’t want them serving with their straight contemporaries. As a result thousands of openly gay Americans were discharged from the armed forces.

Now I am a fan of having the freedom to spend my money how I choose, even if it means that I will be gambling online. And while I am willing to say that UIGEA can be compared to Prohibition, comparing UIGEA to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is overkill.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell segregated a whole portion of the US population for something they cannot help being. They are who they are and they were being punished for it. UIGEA is not the same thing. Online gambling isn’t something that you cannot help doing. It is a choice. Like how drinking alcohol is a choice.

However, I have heard tell of die-hard online gambling fans drawing a comparison between Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and UIGEA.

I am just as upset as the next online gambler that neither Senator Harry Reid’s bill nor Representative Barney Frank’s bill passed in the lame duck session. Yes, thankfully, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed, but sadly UIGEA was not.

Not that Reid’s bill would have repealed UIGEA. It would have put in place a structure to allow online poker in the US through casino businesses that have had land-based operations open for the last five years. In other words, it was his half-hearted way of paying back the Nevada gambling industry for backing him in the mid-term elections and helping him win—which he most likely would not have without their support. Reid wasn’t interested in allowing online gambling in the US. But he was interested in having the Nevada gambling industry’s backing. I will applaud him on walking the fence though—that takes skill.

Frank’s bill, which was all but forgotten in the onslaught of love for Reid’s sudden turn-tail on online gambling, actually would have repealed UIGEA and set the beginning of building a structure for regulating online gambling in the US. This is why it took him years to accomplish what Reid did in two weeks. Frank was looking to achieve more than Reid, and he was sincere in his pro-online gambling work.

In less than two weeks we will be back under a Republican majority, which means that it will be another few years until online gambling regulation will be looked at again with any real force. Until then we online gamblers are left to be the rebels that we are—remember UIGEA does not actually say that US citizens cannot gamble online.

One Response to “I See Your Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and I’ll Raise You UIGEA”

  1. James says:

    Interesting article. One minor argument, though. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was instituted in 1993 by the Clinton (D) administration. Lawmakers passed that as a compromise. Way back in 1950, during the Truman administration (another Democrat), gay people were banned from the military by the Uniform Code of Military Justice. DADT was an attempt to allow them as long as they weren’t “open” about it (prior to that, they could and did ask).