Robert Wexler

word type: person

  1. Author of HR 2610, the Skill Game Protection Act
  2. Democratic Congressman representing the 19th Congressional District of Florida


Wexler is a veteran of the United States House of Representatives, having been elected from the 19th District in 1996. Prior to his ascension to Capitol Hill, he served in the Florida Senate for six years.

The election in 2000 that pitted George W. Bush against Al Gore was infamous for hanging "chads" on ballots in Palm Beach and Broward Counties in Florida. The area in question belonged to Wexler's district.

Wexler is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Europe in the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Shuffle Up and Deal!

In 2008, Wexler gave the traditional "Shuffle Up and Deal" command during the World Series of Poker Main Event on Day 1D. It was the second year in a row he had done so and is perhaps the most visible pro poker Congressman among the game's audience. Speaking with him to the captive crowd in the Amazon Room at the Rio in Las Vegas was Poker Players Alliance (PPA) Chairman Alfonse D'Amato, a former three term Senator from New York.

Wexler appeared on behalf of the PPA in Las Vegas. He told poker players waiting to play their first hands of the 2008 Main Event, "We're here as friends of poker. Two years ago, under a Republican-controlled Congress, the United States Congress took your right to play poker on the internet away. With your help, we're going to change that wrong-headed law. That's what we need to do while we're fixing the economy and all the other important things."

Skill Game Protection Act

HR 2610, the Skill Game Protection Act, was introduced on June 7, 2007. It mustered 22 co-sponsors and exempted poker, bridge, mah jong, and other games of skill from existing federal law. This included both the Wire Act of 1961 and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which was passed on 2006.

The Skill Game Protection Act's premise was that these types of games should be treated differently than games where chance dominates. Its text reads, "Games where success is predominantly determined by the skill of the players involved, as a matter of law and of policy, are distinct from the games of chance traditionally described and addressed in Federal and State gambling statutes." It also added that the Wire Act traditionally has applied to online wagering on sports.

In the language of HR 2610, a game of skill was defined as one in which the action is player versus player and not player versus the house. This effectively separated online poker from online casinos and sports betting. It was one of the first attempts to rationalize what the definition of "skill" should be in the eyes of the U.S. Government.

Within 180 days of the passage of HR 2610 into law, operators had to ensure that their customers were 18 years of age or older, located in a jurisdiction where online wagering is legal, were not compulsive gamblers, and were not participating in money laundering or fraud.