With the date of compliance for the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act less than two months away and legislation to push back enforcement failing to make progress in Congress, the Poker Players Alliance is trying a new method to delay the deadline.
The PPA filed a petition with U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner asking for the date of compliance, which is Dec. 1, to be extended one year under the Administrative Procedure Act. This may seem like a desperate move — and it is the time to get desperate — but the PPA recruited powerful allies to make a strong push that should at least get Geithner's attention.
The PPA filed the joint petition along with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and American Greyhound Track Operators Association. Then 19 Congressmen wrote Geithner and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke to support the petition. Among the 19 Congressment were Finance Services Committee chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Homeland Security Committee ranking member Peter King (R-N.Y.), Financial Institutions Subcommittee chairman Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.), Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology Subcommittee chairman Melvin Watt (D-N.C.), Domestic Monetary Policy Subcommittee ranking member Ron Paul (R-Tex.,) and Oversight Subcommittee ranking member Judy Biggert (R-Ill.).
The letter called the statute "flawed" and said it would put "an unreasonable burden on regulators and the financial services industry at a time of economic crisis."
That the NTRA took part in the petition might seem surprising because the UIGEA included an exemption for horse racing. But what the horse racing industry is concerned about, and has already experienced, is overblocking.
"Given horse racing was clearly exempted from the law, it shows that the UIGEA is not right and needs to be clarified further before banks are forced to comply," PPA executive director John Pappas said.
Although the letter already represented a bipartisan segment of Congress, Pappas said the PPA is working on getting a second letter from members of the Republican caucus.
Frank introduced the Reasonable Prudence in Regulation Act (HR 2266), which also seeks to delay implementation of the UIGEA by a year, in May. The bill has 49 cosigners. However, as the head of the Finance Services Committee, Frank has been unable to address the legislation in the committee because of pressing health care and economic issues.
Geithner has 180 days to respond to the petition, meaning he could wait until the compliance date passes. Pappas doesn't see this effort to go through administrative channels as the last resort for stopping the UIGEA. He is hoping to hear one way or another by the end of the month, leaving time to make a final push to get HR 2266 through Congress.
"Barney has a lot of things on his plate," Pappas said. "Taking this issue up is going to take away from other national legislation that he has to consider — priorities for the President, Geithner and others. We wanted to help him find a way to do this without going through the committee. We feel confident that if, for some reason, this process fails, Barney will in fact move the bill in his committee."
"It's going to be very difficult to get done before Dec. 1. That's why we're working to either get it done administratively or grease the wheels and get the legislation through quickly."
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