Integrity Legal

13th September 2010

Those who read this blog regularly may note that we usually focus on matters which have an impact upon American Federal law. As the Congressional Session is about to begin anew, this author found an interesting piece regarding the regulation of online gaming in the United States of America. Those who are unfamiliar with current American gaming law should note that while gaming itself is not illegal under US Federal law, the methods of transferring funds to online gaming websites is restricted pursuant to provisions of the UIGEA (the Unlawful  Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006). The ramifications of the UIGEA have yet to be fully explored as the law was passed in a rather unusual manner compared to legislation of a similar nature. Furthermore, some of the provisions of the law remain vague and regulations have yet to be fully implemented. This has lead to a rather precarious situation from a legal perspective. United States Congressional Representative Barney Frank has authored legislation aimed at allowing online gaming in a regulated environment. To quote a recent posting by Mr. Larry Rutherford on the website: casinogamblingweb.com: 

[T]he Congressional session in the US begins again in both the House and the Senate. One of the pieces of legislation that may be discussed is Representative Barney Frank’s online gambling bill. Online poker players and gamblers are urged to call their senators and representatives to support the bill.

Rep. Frank introduced HR 2267, the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act earlier this year. Before the recess of the House, the House Financial Services Committee passed Frank’s legislation. The next step will be to take the issue to the entire House, and then possibly on to the Senate.

For the process to get done in a timely manner, it is recommended that all online poker players, or anyone interested in seeing online gambling prohibition stopped, call their representatives in their jurisdiction. The more pressure that is put on these representatives, the better chance that Frank moves his bill along in the coming session.

To pass the law in the coming months is essential to the millions of Americans who currently engage in online gambling. In November, the political structure may change and Republicans may seize control of the House. If that occurs, it is likely that Rep. Frank would lose his Chair status in the House Finance Committee. Frank’s likely successor would be Rep. Spencer Bachus, one of online gambling regulation’s biggest opponents.

Proponents of regulated online gaming point to the numerous economic benefits which could be accrued through effective regulation of online gaming in the United States. This argument is ringing especially true in the USA as unemployment and other economic issues weigh heavily on lawmakers and the public at large. There are those who argue that regulated online gaming would create jobs and tax revenues for a Federal government that could use both. To quote the aforementioned posting further:

With only one month left before the mid-term elections, many analysts believe it is unlikely that Frank would move forward with the controversial issue leading up to the elections. Republicans could force Democrats into taking a position on Internet gambling, and then use that to gain leverage in many upcoming House battles.

Frank, however, may understand that if the climate changes and he is ousted as the Chairman of the Finance Committee, then the likelihood of gaining Internet gambling regulations will become slim. That fact alone may sway Frank to push hard for the regulations in the coming weeks.

It is unknown what the future holds for Frank’s bill, but one thing is certain, the millions of people who enjoy playing poker online need to be heard. CGW is encouraging everyone who wishes to have the online gambling laws changed in the US, to contact their representatives and senators in the coming days and have your voice heard.

This author does find logic in the argument that regulated online gaming may create major economic benefits for Americans and the Federal Treasury. That said, there are those who feel that it is unlikely that this legislation will be passed in this session of Congress. This Bill could have a significant impact on the American economy at a critical time, but there may not be enough political will to pass this legislation at this time. Online businesses continue to bring incredible opportunities to the United States of America. The internet is still a significant platform for all types of trade and commerce. This author can understand any government’s desire to regulate and monitor the activities of online gaming enterprises. However, the current state of affairs in the USA would seem to be virtually untenable from a legal standpoint as the law itself is somewhat vague on certain issues and enforcement of these rules could prove nearly impossible. Furthermore, there are multiple Constitutional issues which could be raised by those challenging the provisions of the UIGEA. Therefore, due to all of the uncertainty surrounding the online gaming industry in the USA, it may be time to promulgate rules which clearly and effectively regulate the US online gaming industry.


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