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Poker News | Gambling and the Law

British Government Opposes UIGEA

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While the trade dispute between the USA and the European Union (EU) may have reached a settlement, more countries are making their voices heard regarding their opposition to the UIGEA. The latest country to come out against the USA’s Unlawful Internet Enforcement Gambling Act is the United Kingdom.

The private secretary of the British Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, Emily Bourne, recently sent a letter to several gambling companies and financial service agencies. In her letter, Ms. Bourne said, “The British Government has signaled quite clearly its support for regulation rather than prohibition of gambling by the recent implementation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act."

Like most other countries that have stated their opinion on the UIGEA, the UK favors regulation of Internet Gaming as opposed to banning it. Trade experts from these opposing countries are also offering support to Representative Barney Frank and his proposed legislation, the Internet Gambling Regulation Enforcement Act (IGREA). If the IGREA passes, it could resolve the whole dispute, save the USA billions of dollars, and bring them in compliance with international trade agreements. It would also serve to make millions of American poker players very happy, by making it legal for them to play online.

On a recent trip to Washington, European Union Trade Commission Peter Mandelson said, “The US Congress should either open its market to overseas operators or compensate Europe for blocking the American gambling market to European operators.”

Ms. Bourne’s letter addressed Mandelson’s Washington visit by saying, “You will no doubt have been encouraged to read the recent media reports of Commissioner Mandelson's visit to Washington, which the Secretary of State thinks reflects the level of interest at the Commission in the U.S.'s approach to gambling."

Also opposing the UIGEA is the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative (SSIGI). This Initiative supports equal freedom for people to gamble online, and having safeguards in place to protect the players. One of the safeguards the SSIGI promotes is to insure the integrity of financial institutions that would handle transactions for gambling sites and players.

Jeffrey Sandman, spokesperson for the SSIGI said, “Rather than negotiating away settlements that could negatively impact the U.S. economy, the Administration and U.S. Congress should seek a more sensible policy solution and regulate Internet gambling. As the British Government has correctly acknowledged, it is clear that the futile approach by the U.S. to prohibit Internet gambling is a failure. Regulation of Internet gambling could bring the U.S. into compliance with W.T.O. requirements, protect consumers and generate billions in revenue needed for critical government programs."

Along with the EU and Antigua, several other countries are demanding compensation from the USA over the UIGEA as well, including Canada, India and Costa Rica.

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