Goodlatte helped craft language that ended up in the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act

Farewell To Another Online Gambling Opponent: UIGEA Architect Goodlatte To Retire From Congress

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One of the architects of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) is calling it a career.

After 26 years, Virginia Republican Bob Goodlatte announced he will be retiring at the end of his current term.

Goodlatte announced his retirement through a statement that reads in part:

“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.”

Goodlatte is the latest in a string of retirements by high-profile Republican lawmakers, and just days after Virginia Republicans suffered historic electoral defeats at the state level.

Goodlatte is also the second anti-online gambling congressional chair to announce his retirement this year. Earlier this year, Jason Chaffetz, the sponsor of the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), abruptly retired.

Goodlatte’s gambling legacy

Goodlatte’s legacy is vast. But he’s best known in gaming circles for his role in crafting the UIGEA, and sneaking it through Congress in the Safe Ports Act of 2006.

Goodlatte authored the original legislation the UIGEA was largely based on, the Internet Gambling Prohibition and Enforcement Act, and was one of the UIGEA’s most vocal supporters in Congress.

As much damage as Goodlatte caused, he inadvertently opened the door for legal online gambling in the US.

When a ban turns into legalization

Daily fantasy sports has used the fantasy exemption in UIGEA to its advantage.

UIGEA states:

“…participation in any fantasy or simulation sports game or educational game or contest in which (if the game or contest involves a team or teams) no fantasy or simulation sports team is based on the current membership of an actual team that is a member of an amateur or professional sports organization … and that meets the following conditions: …”

In part because of this language, DFS is now expressly legal in no less than 17 states.

Another UIGEA supporter, Rep. Jim Leach (R-IA) has since said DFS is something he never anticipated:

“The assumption was that while unconstrained Internet gambling could change the nature of America’s savings and investment patterns, fantasy sports would be a ‘de minimus’ footnote. No one ever conceived of it becoming a large scale activity or that it could transition into one-day contests”

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Online gambling, too

Further, UIGEA contains language that allows intrastate online gambling:

“The term “unlawful Internet gambling” does not include placing, receiving, or otherwise transmitting a bet or wager where—

“(i) the bet or wager is initiated and received or otherwise made exclusively within a single State;

“(ii) the bet or wager and the method by which the bet or wager is initiated and received or otherwise made is expressly authorized by and placed in accordance with the laws of such State, and the State law or regulations include—”

That language, along with a 2011 Office of Legal Counsel opinion, paved the way for New Jersey, Delaware, Nevada and now Pennsylvania to legalize online gambling.

Goodlatte’s name is anathema to online poker players. But they can take some comfort in knowing his efforts to prohibit online gambling have been indirectly driving legalization efforts.

- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.
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