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Poker News | Gambling and the Law

Frank Determined to Clarify UIGEA With New Legislation

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Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) has been frustrated by the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) since its inception. At the law’s core, Frank feels that it is a misguided law, but even insofar as the enforcement of it, he views it as unreasonable.

In April of 2008, Frank and fellow Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) held hearings entitled, “Proposed UIGEA Regulations: Burden Without Benefit?” to clarify the hardships put on financial institutions with regards to enforcement of the UIGEA. The results of those hearings were clear: The ambiguity of the UIGEA prevented institutions like the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve System from knowing how exactly to play by the rules of the law. Frank noted at the time, “These regulations are impossible to implement without placing a significant burden on the payments system and financial institutions, and while I do disagree with the underlying objective of the Act, I believe that even those who agree with it ought to be concerned about the regulations’ impact.”

Frank’s Congressional record, especially as Chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services, shows that he is not one to back down on an issue about which he feels strongly. The UIGEA is one of those issues, and to show his fortitude, on September 12th, he introduced the Payments System Protection Act of 2008. The purpose of the act is to direct the Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve System, in consultation with the U.S. Attorney General, to create a process that would define which types of online gambling are unlawful. A special Administrative Law Judge would be appointed to define unlawful internet gambling activities and conduct a study about the economic impact of compliance with the UIGEA. This would allow the imposed-upon financial institutions to comply with the UIGEA in response to those institutions’ own vocal concerns about the issue.

Frank and Paul did introduce a similar piece of legislation, H.R. 5767, earlier this year, and though it was amended by Republican Representative Peter King of New York, it was defeated in the House Committee on Financial Services. However, it should be noted that the vote on the bill was 32-32, which was encouraging to the online gaming industry. And since that vote several months ago, the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) has reached out to a number of the members of Congress who were pressured to vote against H.R. 5767 by members of a radical group called Focus on the Family, and those members have allegedly seen the truth about Frank’s intentions with the bill. There are high hopes that the new Payment System Protection Act of 2008, otherwise known as H.R. 6879, will pass.

Jeffrey Sandman, spokesperson for the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative, noted, “Chairman Frank is doing the right thing by saying it is unfair to burden U.S. financial service companies with the job of the internet gambling police at a time when their undivided attention ought to be on the economy. The reality is that UIGEA is dangerous to the payments system and unlikely to stop anyone from using the internet to play poker, bet on horses, or engage in other types of wagering.”

H.R. 6879 is now scheduled for a vote on Tuesday, September 16th.

Visit the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative at www.SafeAndSecureIG.org or the Poker Players Alliance at www.PokerPlayersAlliance.org for more information. Both sites enable visitors to easily send a message to members of Congress, which is highly encouraged as the rights to play online poker ARE at stake.

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