Barney Frank: Bill to Repeal UIGEA Coming Next Month

by Lou on February 24, 2009

Earlier this month (see blog entry for February 4) I called your attention to Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank’s plan to reintroduce a bill repealing the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA). This idea has gained steam and now there’s a timeline being floated about in Washington. “The bill introduction should happen in the next month,” Frank’s staff told Reuters. “Mr. Frank will bring back legislation to repeal the UIGEA.”

Although UIGEA was passed in 2006 as a dead-of-night, no debate or discussion, eleventh-hour attachment to Safe Port Act—a piece of must pass legislation—it was only last November that the regulations implementing it were finalized. The law, which doesn’t change the legal status of poker or other online gaming, makes it illegal for banks, credit-card companies, and payment processors such as PayPal and Neteller to transfer funds from players to online casinos, and back again.

Frank will predicate his legislation on the fact that UIGEA breaches civil liberties while hurting trade ties with the European Union.

Last year Frank tried unsuccessfully to overturn UIGEA. But now, with a Democratic congress and White House, his chances for success appear much better.

Repealing UIGEA is also likely to settle the ongoing trade disputes with the tiny Caribbean nation of Antigua and the much larger European Union. Although Antigua was awarded damages, reopening the US market to online gaming sites housed there is really the prize they’re after.

In addition, if online gaming sites were to be legalized, regulated, and taxed in the United States, it would generate needed tax revenue in the billions, while providing an enhanced level of safety to customers.

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