October 6, 2009 (CAP Newswire) — As the date for full implementation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) draws closer (it’s December 1), some lawmakers in the U.S. are getting more vocal about their opposition to the anti-gambling rules.
And, somewhat surprisingly, this chorus of disapproval isn’t coming from just Democrats like Barney Frank and Robert Menendez (who each have bills in the Congress seeking to regulate online gambling). There are also a handful of Republicans in the anti-UIGEA crowd.
Since Republicans were the party so eager to push the UIGEA into law (without any debate, by attaching it to a can’t-fail port security bill) back in 2006, this represents a bit of a turnaround, and a somewhat positive sign that the lawmakers might have the bipartisan power that's probably necessary to get the UIGEA delayed.
Foremost among the Republicans opposing the UIGEA is New York Representative Pete King (R-N.Y.). He and Barney Frank are among the 19 lawmakers who sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke earlier this week.
"We are writing to strongly urge you to … to extend the date of compliance for the final regulations implementing the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act by one year," the group of legislators lawmakers said in their letter, according to Reuters.
"We also believe this is an unreasonable burden on regulators and the financial-services industry at a time of economic crisis," continues the letter, according to The Hill.
“The bill, which cost European Internet gambling companies billions of euro in lost market value, prohibited firms from accepting credit card, check and electronic fund transfer payments in connection with ‘unlawful Internet gambling’,” the Reuters article continues.
What are the chances that the plea will be successful? Well, considering that the Treasury and Federal Reserve last year expressed concern “that they were struggling to understand exactly what was unlawful” about the UIGEA (according to the Times Online), the letter may fall on sympathetic ears. Then again, plenty of obstacles remain, such as conservative Christian groups and a handful of professional sports leagues like the NFL.