Two weeks remain before the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) takes full effect. A pending petition with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is the last hope to delay the Dec. 1 compliance date.
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has no chance of getting his Reasonable Prudence in Regulation Act reviewed and passed by the House Finance Services Committee, the full House of Representatives and the Senate in the next two weeks when it is not even on the schedule. In addition, the health care bill and other more pressing legislation of importance to the country stands in the way.
Because of this congressional bottleneck, the future processing of Internet poker transactions lies in Geithner's hands. Appointed by President Barack Obama, Geithner has had a busy first year in office, directing the allocation of $350 billion of Wall Street bailout funds and dealing with the survival of the automobile, banking, insurance and mortgage industries.
His experience dealing with the banking industry could make him sympathetic to the extra burden the UIGEA would put on the financial institutions during difficult economic times. The Poker Players Alliance (PPA), which filed the petition and was backed by a letter from 19 congressmen headed by Frank, claims that several leading banks and trade associations have expressed serious reservations about the impending compliance date. Geithner has 180 days from the date he received the petition to respond. The petition was dated Sept. 16, which means he could let the UIGEA go into effect without making a ruling. The PPA remains confident that he will make a timely decision.
"We know that Treasury and the Fed are currently reviewing our petition, and I expect that a decision will be made — hopefully in favor of our request — before the Dec. 1 deadline," PPA executive director John Pappas said.
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The PPA launched a new site for poker players to contact members of Congress using the latest technology with www.tweetforpoker.com.
Input your location; the site will provide the Twitter accounts — if available — for your representative and senators. Then the site will take you to your twitter account with a prewritten message asking for the congressman to support your right to play poker and citing the relevant legislation.
"Twitter is still a relatively new technology, really gaining popularity in the last year," Pappas said. "The PPA saw this as a great opportunity to be one of the first groups to use Twitter to get our message out to Congress."
But are congressmen really using Twitter? Pappas said that currently about half of the representatives and senators are on Twitter. Although letters and e-mail to congressmen are almost always read by an assistant, many congressmen are using Twitter themselves, providing one of the few means to directly reach out to a member of Congress, Pappas said.
"If you look at who is using Twitter, you'll see that it is voting-age adults who are driving the growth of the service," Pappas said. "And that is why more and more members of Congress are starting to use Twitter."