The U.S. Department of Treasury and Federal Reserve Board anounced today that the compliance date for the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act has been extended by six months to June 1, 2010.
The extension is an important victory for Internet poker and the Poker Players Alliance, which submitted the petition for delay. The ruling affords six months for Congress to revise the act, clarifying the definition of "unlawful Internet gambling" in a way that distinguishes the game of poker.
"The PPA is extremely pleased with the decision by the Federal Reserve and Treasury to grant the six month extension," PPA chairman and former Senator Alfonse D'Amato said in a statement. "This is a great victory for poker, but an even greater victory for advocates of good and fair public policy. These additional months are critical to provide legislators time to clarify UIGEA and pass legislation to license and regulate poker early next year."
John Pappas, executive director of the PPA, said he thinks the extension of six months rather than the requested year could actually help poker's cause by providing a sense of urgency to those in Congress who support the licensing and regulation of the Internet poker industry.
"I think it will it will force Congress to act quickly on this rather than drag their heals thinking they can deal with this later because they have a year," Pappas said. "Hopefully we'll have some movement in the House and Senate. If there's good progress being shown, we're hopeful we would be granted another delay."
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who was instrumental in helping to secure the extension, has scheduled a hearing for Thursday in the House Financial Services Committee to open discussions on his bills HR 2266, the Reasonable Prudence in Regulation Act, and HR 2267, the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act.
"This will give us a chance to act in an unhurried manner on my legislation to undo this regulatory excess by the Bush administration and to undo this ill-advised law," Frank said in a statement.
The PPA filed the joint petition on Sept. 18 along with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and the American Greyhound Track Operators Association.
In its ruling, the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve Board acknowledged receiving letters of support for the petition from regulated financial institutions, associations representing regulated financial institutions, as well as members of Congress.
After years of the industry being attacked by Congress and then the Department of Justice, it seems that momentum is swinging in favor of Internet poker.
"I think we've had a lot of smaller victories that led to a change in how Congress views our issue," Pappas said. "...but I think this might be our biggest single, changing moment. This really puts it squarely on the shoulders of Congress to do something during this period of delay, and we're hoping we can get some quick action. That's why I think the timing of Frank's hearing next week couldn't be better."
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