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Republican Seeks to Clarify UIGEA

Pete Sessions, long-time Republican Congressman from Texas, has introduced a bill in the House of Representatives that attempts to "bring clarity" to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).


According to an article on, the new bill "would also grant companies who willingly left the US market amnesty, as well, it may allow them to re-enter the US market."

The current language of the UIGEA states that banks must stop allowing transactions to illegal Internet gambling sites. However, it does not define what illegal Internet gambling is and therefore makes it impossible for the banks to implement the UIGEA's stipulations.

Sessions' new Bill attempts to clear up those ambiguous definitions by defining illegal online gambling as only related to sports betting.

The language also makes it clear that the ambiguity of the UIGEA has caused legitimate publicly traded UK companies to voluntarily exit the market, thus seriously damaging the companies' stature, while allowing non-complying companies who remained in the US market to thrive.

The stated purpose of Bill HR 6663 is outlined below:


(a) Findings- Congress finds the following:

(1) Prior to the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (hereafter in this section referred to as the 'UIGEA'), Public Law 109-347, on October 13, 2006, Federal law was both vague and outdated regarding Internet gambling activities, as Federal criminal gambling statutes were passed decades before the commercial use of the Internet.

(2) To date, all Federal Internet gambling prosecutions have involved sports betting, creating a lack of authoritative court decisions on the applicability of other federal criminal statutes to Internet poker and casino-style gambling.

(3) Sports betting, which is illegal in 49 of the 50 States, is viewed as particularly harmful because its potential adverse impact on the integrity of professional and amateur sports, and is the one form of gambling where there is settled Federal case law clarifying it as illegal on the Internet.

(4) Many European Internet gambling companies offering services not including sports betting to persons in the United States were fully listed on the London Stock Exchange, and thereby subject to high standards of transparency and scrutiny, but upon receiving clarification of United States law regarding Internet gaming through the enactment of the UIGEA, these companies closed their sites to persons in the United States.

(5) Continued legal jeopardy for companies that made a good faith effort to comply voluntarily with clarified United States law following the passage of the UIGEA punishes behavior that the law intended to foster and inadvertently rewards continued noncompliance by other foreign entities.

(6) In light of the foregoing and in deference to long-standing constitutional requirements of fair notice and transparency in the criminal law, the Congress finds it necessary to clarify that criminal statutes applicable to gambling do not apply to any person who offered Internet gambling services that did not include sports betting prior to October 13, 2006, and who ceased offering Internet gambling services to persons in the United States upon passage of the UIGEA.

(7) To effect the purposes and intent of the UIGEA, it is the sense of the Congress that the Attorney General should focus any prosecutorial efforts on those persons who–

(A) offer Internet sports betting in the United States; or

(B) process payments for illegal Internet sports betting in the United States.

Sessions has introduced Bill 6663 with the support of three respected Congressmen. Jesse Jackson Jr. from Illinois, Marion Berry of Arkansas, and Bill Delahunt from Massachusetts. All are Democrats, making the Bill a non-partisan one since Sessions is Republican.

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