The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act passed through congress last week as a rider to a port security bill, like a tick clinging to a deer. The gambling legislation intends to make online poker and other money-winning internet games illegal super illegal in the United States (see below). (Business Week mentions that some gaming companies are counting on loopholes, but most U.S. operations have a dire outlook.) President Bush is expected to sign the bill into law within the next few weeks.

Card Squad says, and we agree, that laws should be created on their own merits. The site covers Shelley Berkeley (D-Nevada) debating the act, expressing her disappointment that the bill was tacked on to critical security legislation.

While we usually leave the poker playing to Card Squad, these bills make us nervous for impending legislation in the videogame industry. Will the Video Game Decency Act pass or fail on its own merits, or will it ride on the back of a more important law?

Would U.S. lawmakers try to save Springfield from a comet if they had to allocate $30 million to "support the perverted arts?"

Thanks to Dirk and others for pointing out that gambling is already technically illegal in the United States. It's only legal under state laws or on Native American land, which has limited sovereignty in this situation. (Although state-run gambling exists as lotteries.)

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act gives the government new tools to enforce old laws, making the transaction illegal. Read the act in its original state or in its new habitat, hiding in the SAFE Port Act.

[Update 1: Added last two paragraphs.]

This article was originally published on Joystiq.

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