Congress to Debate Future of Online Gambling

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Congress is set to hear two bills that will affect the future of online casinos and poker.

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The House Committee on Financial Services is due to debate the Barney Frank (D-Mass.): the Reasonable Prudence in Regulation Act (H.R 2266) and Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act of 2009 (H.R. 2267).

If passed the first would delay the implementation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which is set to come into force on June 1st, by a year. The second is a bill that would regulate and legalize online gambling and if passed, would in effect nullify the UIGEA. The UIGEA tells financial institutions not to conduct business related to online gambling. It means that banks would have to screen new commercial customers and reject applicants who plan to operate as an “illegal gambling entity.”

It is a move that has been welcomed by Michael Waxman, spokesperson of the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative who has said:

“This hearing will provide further evidence that UIGEA is a poorly-crafted law that simply does not work. A more common sense approach to protect Americans is required. We expect this hearing to provide further impetus for the House Financial Services Committee and Congress to address this issue and move forward Chairman Frank’s regulatory bill.”

UIGEA has long been criticized because it is considered vague, ambitious and difficult to police. Partly because of this the rules for putting the UIGEA into place have already been delayed once by the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve System. It was originally to come into force in December last year and was instead pushed back to June of this year. However, reports have said that another delay will not take place, unless there is intervention by Congress.

Frank's goal is to have legislators overturn the UIGEA and set up regulated internet gambling in the United States. His party currently has a majority in Congress so now could be the time for his bills.

The hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Friday, in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington D.C.

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