Legalized Online Poker 15 Month “Blackout” Period Has Players In Uproar

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Dec/06/2010
online poker 15 month blackout period

No online poker for 15 months following passage of a law that would legalize the activity in the United States?

Don’t count on it!

Some Internet poker rooms will take full advantage.

Others may go along with the process however, and that has a number of online poker players based in the US up in arms. 

Originally, the big two, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, would have been prohibited from entering the US market.  Recent draft legislation allows for it and they could obtain a license.  But are these sites willing to cease taking US customers for a 15-month period so that they can compete with the likes of MGM and possibly Google?

For 15 months, there will be no legal online poker in the United States. Once this bill is enacted, the first license will be issued 15 months from that date.

"No qualified body may issue a license under this title before the date that is 15 months after the date of the enactment of this Act. Qualified bodies shall, to the extent practicable while meeting the requirements and standards of this title, issue multiple licenses on the date that is 15 months after the date of the enactment of this Act in order to ensure a robust and competitive market for consumers and to prevent the first licensees from gaining an unfair competitive advantage."

Once the bill is enacted, current sites that offer play to players from the United States will have 30 days to cease those operations if they wish to receive a license.

"Not later than 30 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, cease offering, accepting and providing services with respect to bets or wagers from persons located in the United States"

Furious with the Poker Players Alliance for supporting such a “blackout period” without much mention in the past, one member of the popular TwoPlusTwo.com posting forum commented:

“It's fine that the 15 month blackout will be manageable for some players. I see posts explaining how x, y, and z will be able to cope just fine. But for others, you have basically just kicked some people on the street. You have kicked some people in debt (with a reasonable expectation to get out of it) into bankruptcy or having to sell their home. You have forced people to leave the country. And you gave NO warning about this.”

TruePoker.com called the 15 month blackout period “controversial” and its CEO appeared unwilling to go along with such a process. 

There is no guarantee that a website like True Poker or even PokerStars for that matter would obtain a license in the United States.  There is currently an ongoing investigation by the US federal government into payment processors that have worked with both PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. 

The bill (which can be read here) was likely to be attached to legislation extending the Bush tax cuts.

- Christopher Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher

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