Hold called for on UIGEA regulations

Too great a burden on financial services sector and proposed regulators, say politicians

Washington politicians from both political parties have called for a hold on the implementation of the supporting regulations for the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), due to kick in on December 1st this year. The bipartisan call by nineteen Congressmen and women claims the move will place an unreasonable burden on regulators and the financial services industry at a time of economic crisis.

U.S. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank led Friday's call, which complements proposed legislation to set the regulations back for a year whilst the legalisation of online gambling in the United States is debated.

"We are writing to strongly urge you to ... to extend the date of compliance for the final regulations implementing the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act by one year," the legislators appealed in a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, describing the regulations as 'flawed'.

Congress passed the anti-online gambling legislation, which disrupts financial transactions with online gambling sites, in 2006, when Republicans still controlled both the House and the Senate.

The bipartisan group included Republicans Ron Paul of Texas, Judy Biggert of Illinois and Peter King of New York.

A spokeswoman from the Federal Reserve said they had received the letter and would respond to it. There was no immediate comment from the U.S. Treasury.

The controversial UIGEA caused the exit of major European companies from the US market, incurring billions in losses. The manner in which the law was passed attached to an unrelated security bill, and its imprecise nature, together with inequities that allow online betting on horseracing, fantasy sports and state lotteries have continued to create serious problems for the US, damaging its international reputation in the World Trade Organisation.

At home, financial organisations have warned that the imprecise nature of the Act will create 'overkill' situations in financial institutions burdened with its enforcement. These have already surfaced in the form of problems of definition that have adversely impacted at least two state lotteries (see previous InfoPowa reports).

Friday's appeal to Geithner and Bernanke urges the officials to accept a petition filed by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, the American Greyhound Track Operators Association and the Poker Players Alliance asking for a delay in the implementation of the rules for one year.

Conservative Christian groups and the major US professional sports leagues are opposed to legalising and taxing online gambling.

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