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 (UIGEA) has been delayed six months from December 1st,

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PostSubject: (UIGEA) has been delayed six months from December 1st,   Sat Dec 19, 2009 10:07 pm

The regulations of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) have been delayed six months from December 1st, according to Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA) Chairman Joe Brennan.

Neither U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner nor Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke had made any official comment regarding a six-month delay at press time. The two government officials received petitions to stay the UIGEA’s regulations by one year in letters filed by the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), National Thoroughbred Racing Association, the American Greyhound Track Operators Association, and members of Kentucky’s Congressional delegation. Congressman Spencer Bachus (R-AL) and Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) asked the two officials to uphold the original December 1st industry compliance deadline in a dissenting opinion.

The news comes one week ahead of a hearing in the House Financial Services Committee regarding two internet gambling bills introduced by Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) in May that would alter the landscape of the industry in the United States. The first, HR 2266, would have postponed the regulations of the UIGEA by one year to December 1st, 2010. Its viability given today’s news of a likely six-month postponement is up in the air. The measure had attracted 53 co-sponsors on both sides of the aisle.

HR 2267, claiming 63 co-sponsors, creates a full licensing and regulatory framework for the internet gambling industry in the United States. It marks Frank’s latest attempt to undo the UIGEA, which was passed in 2006 after being attached to an unrelated port security measure at the prompting of then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN). In the Senate, the SAFE Port Act was passed by unanimous consent.

On the hearing next week, which will be held at 10:00am ET in Room 2128 of the Rayburn House Office Building on Thursday, Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative spokesperson Michael Waxman told Poker News Daily, “Chairman Frank is clearly indicating his commitment to switch the government’s position on Internet gambling, replacing attempts to prohibit the activity with a regulatory framework where consumers are protected. Chairman Frank’s commitment is further reinforced by scheduling this hearing and taking up this issue on the heals of the push for financial industry reform, which has been the committee’s exclusive focus the last six months.”

The six-month window will take the internet gambling industry to June 1st, right before election season in the United States in 2010. While issues like health care and a sagging economy have taken center stage since late 2008, internet gambling may finally see its day in the sun. Brennan explained his thoughts on the breaking news: “It’s encouraging that you’ve had this stay on the compliance, but it’s unfortunate that it took this long. We should all hope that in the next six months, a bill that already has 63 co-sponsors can be heard.”

To be clear, no official comment from the Treasury or Federal Reserve was available at the time of writing. With December 1st occurring next Tuesday, a stay likely had to be granted today or Monday, November 30th given the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. Word breaking on Black Friday was also a possibility.With three additions last week, Congressman Barney Frank’s Reasonable Prudence in Regulation Act, HR 2266, is up to 13 co-sponsors. The measure was introduced on May 6th.

HR 2266 has received a considerable amount of exposure in the wake of news that $30 million in assets of online poker players has been seized by federal authorities in the United States. The bill delays the regulations of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) from being imposed by one year to December 1st, 2010. As it currently stands, the financial services industry in the United States must come into full compliance with the muddled 2006 law by December 1st of this year. The outgoing Bush Administration approved the UIGEA regulations as midnight rules late last year.

The bill was referred to the House Financial Services Committee, of which Frank is the Chair. Among the three latest co-sponsors to lend their support to HR 2266 is Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), who represents the state’s Fourth Congressional District, which includes parts of Long Island. James Moran (D-VA), who won in a landslide victory over Republican Mark Ellmore last November, also signed on as a co-sponsor on June 4th. Moran represents the Eighth Congressional District of Virginia, which includes several Washington, D.C. suburbs. The final new addition is Charles Rangel (D-NY), who represents the state’s 15th Congressional District, which includes parts of Manhattan.

Former Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul (R-TX) is also a co-sponsor of the bill. Paul and Frank teamed up to introduce HR 5767, which was defeated in the House Financial Services Committee last June. An amendment proposed by Peter King (R-NY) that would have called for a list to be developed of legal and illegal activities under the UIGEA was defeated by virtue of a 32-32 tied roll call vote. HR 5767 was then submitted for an oral vote, where the “Nays” outweighed the “Yays.” Frank quickly introduced HR 6870 to provide clarification of the UIGEA. The bill passed out of Committee in September, but it promptly took a back seat to the then-unfolding global financial crisis. King is also a co-sponsor of the Reasonable Prudence in Regulation Act.

Shelley Berkley (D-NV), who introduced HR 2140, the Internet Gambling Study Act, is also a co-sponsor of HR 2266. The bill was designed to examine “proliferation of Internet gambling, including an analysis of its availability and use within the United States” along with the impact of the UIGEA. It reached 73 co-sponsors, but was not discussed on the floor of the House of Representatives. The measure was slated to be marked up in the House Judiciary Committee last July, but a debate over Karl Rove took center stage. Berkley has not introduced a similar bill during the current Congressional session.

Other co-sponsors of HR 2266 include Tim Bishop (D-NY), Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Bob Filner (D-CA), Michael McMahon (D-NY), George Miller (D-CA), Steven Rothman (D-NJ), and Bobby Scott (D-VA). Meanwhile, Frank’s Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act (HR 2267) is up to 26 co-sponsors and was also introduced on May 6th. The bill establishes a complete licensing and regulatory framework for the internet gambling industry in the United States. A similar measure was introduced during the last Congressional session as HR 2046 and attracted 48 co-sponsors. However, like other bills that were not acted on during the 110th Congress, HR 2046 expired on January 3rd, prompting Frank to unveil new legislation.

HR 2267 focuses on consumer protection, as its name implies, and does not allow online betting on professional sporting events. It was fully endorsed by Harrah’s and YouBet.com and has also received the backing of industry organizations like the Poker Players Alliance (PPA).
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