SHIELDING THE PAST?
SHIELDING THE PAST? New U.S. proposal to limit prosecution of pre-2006 online gambling activities Yet more legislation on Internet gambling was introduced to Congress by Representative Pete Sessions this week in the shape of HR6663, titled the UIGEA Clarification Act. The proposal will probably be welcomed by online gambling companies which were active in the U.S. market prior to the signing into law of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in late 2006, but withdrew when it was passed. This is because it seeks to prohibit the prosecution, on gambling charges or for any financial crime related to gambling, of any company or individual associated with a company that stopped taking U.S. Internet bets after October 13, 2006. That would benefit companies like Party Gaming, 888.com and other majors who exited the US market when UIGEA was introduced, with the implication that these should not suffer punitive action for respecting the new law. There have been repeated media reports over the past year or more that major online gambling companies falling within this category have engaged the American authorities in attempts to avoid being penalised for pre-UIGEA operations in the States. However, the proposal does not shield companies that took sports bets before or after UIGEA, and legal experts have opined that HR6663 contains a "sense of Congress" provision that law enforcement efforts should be focused on sports gambling. Like Nevada Representative Shelley Berkely's proposal for an independent study of Internet gambling, HR6663 will be held up by the August recess of Congress, and it is unlikely that anything will happen on the bill until September. In the meantime, it has been submitted to the House Committee on the Judiciary.