Tuesday Congressional Hearing for Measure to Block UIGEA
A hearing is scheduled today in the US House of Representatives for H.R. 5767, the bill proposed by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Sen. Ron Paul (R-TX) to block implementation of regulations called for under the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).
Implementation of the UIGEA has become bogged down due to language termed "unworkable" in the bill as signed, along with strong resistance from America's banking segment, which would be forced to shoulder the burden of an unfunded mandate called for within the bill, and would also be forced to assume some judgmental duties, regarding transactions potentially tagged as being connected with "unlawful Internet gambling". That phrase, the linchpin of the UIGEA itself, was never defined within the bill, leaving its meaning unclear and open to discretion. One amendment to H.R. 5767 specifically calls for a workable definition of "unlawful Internet gambling" to be created, since current language dates back to the 1961 Wire Act, which predates the Internet by decades.
It is these flaws that the Frank/Paul bill seeks to address, by blocking implementation of the original UIGEA until proper legal definitions are hammered out by legislators. A delay in implementation of the UIGEA may also buy the US additional time as it continues to negotiate with other countries regarding American citizens' access to online gambling services.
The hearing on the bill will be held by the powerful Financial Services Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Frank. It is the same committee that heard testimony earlier this year regarding online gambling itself, with testimony from industry experts exposing the inadequacies of the UIGEA as passed, and detailing the US's ongoing trade disputes with other countries in the market sector. Among the entities supporting H.R. 5767 is the Poker Players Alliance, which issued a call to action to its members, urging them to contact their legislators in support of the measure. On the flip side, Focus on the Family, a far-right advocacy group strongly opposed to gambling, has termed the proposed measure a "dangerous gambling bill."