With the focus nowadays on Senator Lindsey Graham, Sheldon Adelson, and former Rep. Jason Chaffetz when it comes to those trying to prevent regulated online poker in the United States, it is easy to forget the founding assholes of the anti-poker league. One of these reprobates, Rep. Robert Goodlatte, announced that he will be retiring from Congress next year.
Goodlatte was one of the co-authors of the infamous Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA), which outlawed monetary transactions between financial institutions and online gambling sites. It didn’t make online poker explicitly illegal, just the means of funding accounts. Of course, as horse racing is important to Goodlatte’s Virginia, he made sure there was a carveout for that industry in the bill.
UIGEA wasn’t just awful because of its content, either. It was tacked on to the SAFE Port Act, a “must pass” piece of legislation, and as the bill was passed late at night, there was virtually no debate on the UIGEA. Most lawmakers hadn’t even read it.
The UIGEA didn’t end online poker in the U.S. immediately, though. Many online poker rooms and networks exited the U.S. market when the legislation took effect, but others ignored it and stayed. PokerStars has been the biggest online poker room in the world for a long time, but it wasn’t until the UIGEA that it rose to dominance. PokerStars, along with Full Tilt, Absolute Poker, and UltimateBet, came to rule the industry for a while because they remained in the U.S., gobbling up the gigantic player pool.
Of course, Black Friday came along in 2011, wiping out the U.S. online poker industry. Even now, just four states have legalized online poker with only three having sites up and running.
In a press release, Goodlatte said:
Every two years, Maryellen and I sat down to discuss whether to run again or not. When we discussed the 2018 election, the conversation ended a little differently than in past years. After much contemplation and prayer, we decided it was the right time for me to step aside and let someone else serve the Sixth District. I will not seek re-election. With my time as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee ending in December 2018, this is a natural stepping-off point and an opportunity to begin a new chapter of my career and spend more time with my family, particularly my granddaughters.
The most entertaining part of his announcement came earlier, though, when he wrote, “….I’ve been proud to work on policies that have become law and advance fiscal conservatism, personal liberty, economic growth, and limited government.”
Hmm, let’s see. Sneaking in a bill to effectively stop online poker in the U.S. was an example of advancing personal liberty? No? Well then it was a way to advance economic growth, right? Oh, no? Then it has to be an example of limited government. Oh wait.
Good riddance to Bob Goodlatte. I hope he has fun with grandchildren and leaves the rest of us the hell alone.