British official criticizes U.S. online gambling ban

Britain Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell spoke out this week against the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act UIGEA which was signed into law in the United States earlier this month. She said the law could become a modern-day version of prohibition.

The UIGEA, which was attached to the SAFE Port Act in order to get it passed through Congress before the session ended for November elections, targets banks and limits what banking tools people can use to fund their online gambling.

Jowell told media she thought there is real danger that the new law will create online "speakeasies" where players can still go to gamble online illegally, similar to those that cropped up during the nation's alcohol prohibition which served alcohol illegally.

The worry is that unregulated and possibly unscrupulous online casino and poker sites could crop up and take advantage of the people in the United States who want to continue to play.

The three options countries have for dealing with the explosion in online gambling, according to Jowell, are to prohibit it like the United States did, do nothing about it, or to regulate it like Britain is doing.

Jowell spoke out on the issue just days before an international summit organized by Britain is set to begin to discuss the online gambling industry. She said she is determined to kick-start debate on global regulation of gambling ahead of the summit.

The intention of the summit is to bring people involved in the online gambling industry from all over the world ranging from members of the World Trade Organization to ministers from nations that allow online gambling in order to set up a universal code of practice for the online gambling industry.

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