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Poker News | Gambling and the Law

Congressional Hearing to Examine UIGEA Flaws

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As reported by the forces at the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative, a Congressional hearing is being scheduled for early April to discuss the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) as it pertains to the U.S. financial institutions that have been instructed to enforce it. Due to the ambiguity of the law and concerns expressed by those institutions – and echoed by members of Congress on their behalf – the hearing will examine the realistic aspects, or lack thereof, of the UIGEA.

Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) is the chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services and will hold the hearing. As the author of HR 2046, the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act introduced to Congress in 2007 for consideration, he has been very vocal about his concern with regards to the UIGEA. He proposed HR 2046 to require licensed online gaming operators to establish safeguards to protect consumers and ensure jurisdictional compliance, giving states the ultimate control over what types of gaming would be allowed – if any is allowed at all.

Frank’s bill continues to gain momentum as he aims for a hearing to discuss HR 2046 in June. Congressman George Miller (D-CA) recently signed on as one of the 40 plus members who have already agreed to co-sponsor the bill.

With regard to the UIGEA hearing in April, Frank said, “The banks have a lot of other things to worry about right now. I don’t think poker should be one of them.”

The hearing was not only a result of Frank’s own concerns, but it was spurred on by the hundreds of comments submitted to the Department of the Treasury and Federal Reserve about confusion surrounding the UIGEA. For example, the law does not specify the difference between legal and illegal internet gaming activities. And the American Bankers Association was only one of several organizations that argued that the UIGEA will be difficult to enforce and doubtfully keep gamers from using foreign-based sites on which to play for money.

Others who have expressed concern include two Republican senators – Sununu and Domenici – who recently wrote to the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve to express their own issues with the UIGEA, as was reported here.

Jeffrey Sandman, spokesman for the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative, said, “This hearing is significant and must address the issues being raised by the financial services sector and others. The proposed Treasury Department regulations are unclear, burdensome and untenable. It becomes clearer each week that the attempt to prohibit internet gambling activity is doomed to fail. Rather than waste valuable resources attempting to enforce UIGEA, the U.S. should instead regulate and tax internet gambling.”

For more information on how to contact your Congressional Representative and ask for representation of your views as a constituent, visit www.safeandsecureig.org. Easy instructions will guide you through the process of sending your views directly to your Representative in Congress.

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