The fight to delay the implementation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) rules continues. Recently, 19 Congressmen, including Barney Frank (D-MA), issued a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
The news comes on the heels of a letter sent by the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) in conjunction with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and the American Greyhound Track Operators Association to the same two government individuals. In fact, the letter sent by the Congressmen alludes to the PPA’s petition, encouraging Geithner and Bernanke to use the Administrative Procedure Act to delay the implementation of the UIGEA rules by one year to December 1st, 2010. As it currently stands, the financial services industry must fall into line with the 2006 law six weeks from now.
Frank’s letter explains that the UIGEA rules were officially approved on January 19th, one day before current U.S. President Barack Obama took office. It implores, “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.” Last year, Frank pushed HR 6870, which sought to clarify what activities were permissible under the UIGEA, through the Financial Services Committee. However, any action on the bill was halted, as the crisis on Wall Street began shortly thereafter. Frank has been the Chairman of the Financial Services Committee since 2007.
The letter notes, “At our hearing in April 2008, the testimony of regulators and the industry indicated that it would be particularly difficult to craft workable regulations to effectively enforce the statute without having a substantial adverse effect on the payments system.” Instead of creating a “laundry list” of activities that are allowed online, the UIGEA instead defers to a muddled web of federal, state, and local laws. As a result, credit card companies like Visa and MasterCard began “overblocking” in an attempt to comply with the measure, leading to legal online lottery purchases being denied in states like New Hampshire and North Dakota.
The letter is signed by 19 Congressmen, all of whom are members of the Financial Services Committee: Frank, Peter King (R-NY), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Ron Paul (R-TX), Melvin Watt (D-NC), Judy Biggert (R-IL), Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Michael Capuano (D-MA), William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Paul Hodes (D-NH), Ron Klein (D-FL), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Bill Foster (D-IL), André Carson (D-IN), Walt Minnick (D-ID), Steve Driehaus (D-OH), Jim Himes (D-CT), and Dan Maffei (D-NY). Four Republicans are among the signers, who also include two Subcommittee Chairmen.
Frank introduced HR 2266 in May. The measure, affectionately dubbed the Reasonable Prudence in Regulation Act, would delay financial services industry compliance with the rules and regulations of the UIGEA by one year until December 1st, 2010. The measure was introduced in May and has generated 51 cosponsors. However, while the letter explains that HR 2266 is “likely to move,” Frank’s committee has been bogged down with the struggling U.S. economy, which boasts near-double-digit unemployment. As of the time of writing, no discussion of the bill has been scheduled.
Frank also introduced HR 2267 in May, the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act. The bill establishes a complete licensing and regulatory framework for the internet gambling industry in the United States. HR 2267 blocks wagers on sports under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) and has attracted 62 cosponsors. As its name implies, HR 2267 places a considerable amount of emphasis on providing consumer protection in an effort to placate to those in Congress who are fearful of underage and problem gambling.