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Poker News | Gambling and the Law

Official Request Sent to Postpone UIGEA Regulations Until December 2010

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As the summer turns to autumn and thoughts of passing pro-online poker legislation in the halls of the United States Congress in 2009 begin to fade, there is one thing that Representatives can - and must - do before December 1, 2009. In order to keep the regulations of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 from requiring enforcement, Congress must pass H.R. 2266 to delay it from going into effect until December of 2010. That gives them another year to attempt to pass more responsible legislation that will overturn the UIGEA.

The Reasonable Prudence in Regulation Act of 2009 (H.R. 2266) was introduced by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) on May 5, 2009, along with his Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection & Enforcement Act of 2009 (H.R. 2267). The ultra-simple two-page bill simply called for the delay of the UIGEA regulations for one year from its original December 1, 2009 compliance date. Not much was heard about H.R. 2266 as the companion bill was being pushed for possible committee hearings in June, though they were eventually pushed back indefinitely as the economic crisis and health care reform issue came to the forefront of Congressional discussions.

Though there has been hope throughout the summer and fall of 2009 that H.R. 2267 might be able to move forward, especially with more than 60 co-sponsors signing on in support of it, Congress continued to have other priorities. Even the somewhat similar Senate bill introduced by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) ran into similar roadblocks in Congress. As September drew to a close and it seemed clearer that online poker legislation may not make it to committee before the end of the year, the idea that the UIGEA regulations would go into effect became the priority.

Thus, on October 1, 2009, a letter was drafted and sent to Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner and Chairman of the Federal Reserve System Ben Bernanke to formally request that the date of UIGEA compliance be extended. The letter was signed by Frank along with Peter King, Luis Gutierrez, Ron Paul, Melvin Watt, Judy Biggert, Gary Ackerman, Leonard Lance, Michael Capuano, William Clay, Paul Hodes, Ron Klein, Ed Perlmutter, Bill Foster, Andre Carson, Walt Minnick, Steve Driehaus, Jim Himes, and Dan Maffei. And the request was based on a petition filed by several organizations asking for the UIGEA delay: National Thoroughbred Racing Association, American Greyhound Track Operators Association, and Poker Players Alliance.

They wrote, “On January 19, the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department issued regulations implementing the UIGEA but this rulemaking has saddled your agencies with the implementation of the flawed statute. We realize this is not a task you requested. We also believe this is an unreasonable burden on regulators and the financial services industry at a time of economic crisis, and it contradicts the stated intent of the Financial Services Committee.” They went on to give an overview of past legislation that attempted to repeal the UIGEA and current legislation that they believe “is likely to move.”

No response has come from the office of Geithner nor Bernanke in the immediate days following the delivery of the letter, but the request can be met up to the December 1 date that the UIGEA is set to go into effect and financial institutions will be required to regulate the online gaming industry.

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