The Democrat Congressman from Massachusetts, Barney Frank, fired his second salvo against the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006.
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Frank has introduced another bill, HR 6870, which goes by the name “Payment Systems Protection Act of 2008”.
Frank, who is the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has long been an opponent of laws that stop poker players from being able to deposit into online poker sites and therefore much liked by the Poker Players alliance.
HR 6870 has two main objectives. One is to restrict the application of the UIGEA to the activities specifically outlawed under the act, in which Internet gambling is included. The Department of the Treasury and the Financial Reserve Board are seeking to interpret the UIGEA more widely and would exert their control on activities not specifically included. HR 6870 will, if passed, put a stop to this, thus making US poker deposit options easier. The other objective perhaps has greater significance. As of now there is lack of clarity about the regulations that will be used to implement the UIGEA. HR 6870 asks for the appointment of an administrative judge who in consultation with the Department of the Treasury and the Financial Reserve Board will formulate the required regulations. HR 6870 further asks for the UIGEA to be kept in abeyance till such time the implementing regulations are in place.
There are several uncertainties in the UIGEA. The most controversial of these is that the Act does not define Unlawful Internet Gambling. This will in the future give rise to rampant court cases by organizations that will claim that they are not providing “illegal” gambling services. In order to prevent this unnecessary legal activity in the future is essential to have clarity in the present.
The second problem arises because the UIGEA makes the national banking system the law enforcement agency accountable for preventing illegal transfer of funds. There is no certainty of what will be the cost of this policing and from where the funds will come. The only thing agreed upon is that the initial cost estimates in this connection prepared by the promoters of the UIGEA are far short of what the actual costs are likely to be. This is not acceptable according to Congressman Frank.
It is because the UIGEA places an unfair responsibility on the banking system, the bankers have joined hands with the poker players to support HR 6870. The bill is being co-sponsored by the Republican Representative Peter King of New York. Hr 6870 will undergo an initial markup in the subcommittee on the 15th. Frank’s previous attempt to muzzle the UIGEA was through his bill HR5767. HR 5767 came to naught when it was deadlocked during a committee vote.
The Presidential elections are round the corner and the battle lines are being drawn. Each interest group is lobbying hard and the poker fraternity too is in the thick of the action. The Poker Players Alliance did its best to get the Republicans to soften their stand against Internet gambling. But the Republicans thought that they would be better served if they catered to their anti-gambling vote bank. Now it remains to be seen if Frank’s HR 6870 will get the votes for Barrack Obama.