ANTI-UIGEA CONGRESSMEN KEEP UP THE PRESSURE
Letter sent to senior government officials asks for a freeze on regulations
House Financial Services Committee chairman Barney Frank and other anti-UIGEA politicians kept up the pressure on federal officials this week following the introduction of their bill HR 5767, which seeks to prohibit the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve from proposing, prescribing or implementing any regulations related to UIGEA.
Several influential members of Congress joined Frank in a letter calling on the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve to halt the implementation of regulations related to the ban on Internet gambling, as required by the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).
"Given the many other priorities that are pending at your agencies…we believe it would be imprudent for you to devote additional agency resources to this Sisyphean task," wrote Reps. Frank, Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.), Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Peter King (R-N.Y.) in letters to Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr. and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke.
In Greek mythology Sisyphus was punished in Hades for his misdeeds in life by being condemned eternally to roll a heavy stone up a hill. As he neared the top, the stone rolled down again, so that his labour was everlasting and futile. It is an apt characterisation for the mammoth enforcement task that the UIGEA is trying to thrust upon a complaining financial services industry in the United States.
The members of Congress said they intend to "vigorously pursue" implementation of HR 5767 to new legislation to prohibit the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve from proposing, prescribing or implementing any regulations related to UIGEA.
Meanwhile, the Antigua government continues to closely monitor developments surrounding the UIGEA, a central issue in its successful World Trade Organisation wrangle with the United States. Minister of Finance and the Economy Dr. Errol Cort said that he has been following the discussions surrounding the United States' Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, including the recent Congressional hearing on the proposed regulations that saw strong opposition from national banking and credit union bodies.
"I’m not surprised in terms of the position taken by the American Banking Association and other interest groups because the legislation seems to be quite onerous," Dr. Cort told the Antigua Sun newspaper this week. "It seems to put a lot of burden on the banking sector to be the policeman for Congress, and the banks are pushing back in respect of that particular situation," he said.
Dr. Cort again drew attention to the better option for the USA afforded by Congressman Frank's Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act (IGREA) which aims to regulate and license online gambling instead of effectively banning the pastime through financially disruptive tactics.
Antigua and Barbuda’s attorney at the World Trade Organisation, Mark Mendel said that he thought the recent developments are good, particularly since it is stimulating meaningful discourse on the issue.
"What we’re looking for is a change in attitude in the United States and an ultimate acceptance of regulated internet gamblers. It is a direction that the rest of the world has either already moved to or is moving to and I think this latest legislation by Barney Frank, and the testimony up on Capitol Hill, is doing a good job towards educating the American public on this issue and how completely unworkable a prohibition is… It works in our favour," Mendel said.