UIGEA Compliance Deadline Delayed Six Months

 

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In case you missed it, Mac online poker players around the United States have been rejoicing at the news that mandatory financial services industry compliance with the regulations of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) had been delayed six months to June 1st, 2010. The decision, passed down by the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve on Wednesday, comes on the heels of a bevy of letters sent by banking institutions, members of Congress, and lobbying groups like the Poker Players Alliance (PPA).

PPA Chairman Alfonse D’Amato, a former three-term Republican Senator from New York, commented in a press release distributed by the organization last week, “The PPA is extremely pleased with the decision by the Federal Reserve and Treasury to grant the six-month extension. This is a great victory for poker, but an even greater victory for advocates of good and fair public policy.” It is presumed that during the six-month window, legislation legalizing and regulating the internet gambling industry in the United States, or at the very least clarifying the UIGEA, may be approved.

Organization after organization weighed in upon hearing that the regulations had been put off for six months. The Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative (SSIGI) was overjoyed hearing of the delay, commenting, “This decision is the latest evidence that momentum is building for a shift in policy and a rewrite of U.S. internet gambling laws to provide for regulation and taxation instead of prohibition. Over the next six months, Congress should act to create a framework that regulates internet gambling to protect consumers and collect billions in much-needed revenue.” Currently being debated on Capitol Hill is sweeping health care reform, which could carry up to a $1 trillion price tag. Internet gambling could be one of the keys to its funding.

On Thursday, the House Financial Services Committee, Chaired by Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA), will hold a hearing on HR 2266 (the Reasonable Prudence in Regulation Act) and H.R. 2267 (the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act). No witnesses have been announced for the purely informational hearing, which will likely see those familiar with regulating internet gambling take to the podium starting at 10:00am ET in Room 2128 of the Rayburn House Office Building. It marks the first major hearing for internet gambling in the Committee in 15 months.

Regulators from the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve cited overwhelming evidence that the term “unlawful internet gambling” needed to be clarified and that financial institutions were not yet ready to comply as reasons to push the December 1st deadline back to June 1st, 2010.

The Poker Players Alliance (PPA), the industry’s 1.2 million member strong lobbying force, was one organization that weighed in and teamed with two horse racing groups to outline the possibility of overblocking. The term refers to legal online wagers being denied by banks and other financial institutions complying with the UIGEA. Instead of examining each transaction to discern whether it constitutes “unlawful internet gambling,” entities would simply block anything that looks remotely illegal. Thus, legal online wagers on horse racing and state lotteries may have ultimately been stunted due to overblocking. Congressman Spencer Bachus (R-AL) and Senator John Kyl (R-AZ) called overblocking “speculative” in a letter of their own to the Treasury and Federal Reserve.

Several weeks ago, the PPA launched its Tweet for Poker campaign, which takes on a new importance given the six-month extension. The tool allows poker players to enter their address and zip code, log into their Twitter accounts, and automatically blast a Tweet to Representatives and Senators. Over 1,000 players did so in the first week after Tweet for Poker was launched.

Stay tuned to MacPoker.com for the latest poker legislation news.

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