Congressmen suggest stopping UIGEA work

American justice

Several congressmen banded together this week to send a letter to the Federal Reserve and the Department of Treasury suggesting they stop work on implementing the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

The letter, signed by Representatives Barney Frank, Luis Guitierrez, Ron Paul and Peter King, was sent to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Monday.

The letter is a response to the April 2 hearing examining the proposed UIGEA regulations, which was hosted by the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade, and Technology. During the hearing, representatives from the Treasury and the Federal Reserve as well as from the banking industry made it clear that the UIGEA was unworkable.

Louise Roseman, Director, Division of Reserve Bank Operations and Payment Systems, attended the hearing on behalf of the Federal Reserve and was very open about the difficulties faced by the two agencies in finding a way to implement the new law.

"We realize this is not a task you requested. We also appreciate the candor with which your representative answered our questions," said the congressmen in their letter to Bernanke.

"In fact, her honest answers and the testimony of the other witnesses confirmed our view that this is an impossible task."

As a result of the hearing, Frank and Paul have introduced a bill in Congress that will prohibit the implementation of the UIGEA regulations.

In the letter to the Federal Reserve and the Treasury, the congressmen once again pointed out the flaws in the UIGEA that make it unworkable and informed the agencies of the new bill to stop the law from being implemented, H.R. 5767.

"Given the many other priorities that are pending at your agencies, including the mortgage crisis, HOEPA, and UDAP rule writing and many other issues, we believe it would be imprudent for you to devote additional agency resources to this Sisyphean task," wrote the congressman, "especially as we intend to vigorously pursue legislation to prevent the implementation of these regulations."

Frank also has another bill in congress, H.R. 2046 the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act, which would set up a system to legalize and regulate online gambling in the United States rather than banning the industry.

Either bill would serve to stop the UIGEA, but Frank's IGREA would also bring the United States into compliance with World Trade Organization rules that it has been violating with an online gambling ban.

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