Frank's bill scheduled for markup Tuesday

Hands tied

Resurrected as H.R. 6870, Rep. Barney Frank's Payments System Protection Act will get its first once-over by the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday.

The bill is scheduled for a markup in the House Financial Service Committee on Tuesday, during which the committee will be able to debate, amend and even rewrite the proposed legislation. Once any changes have been made, the bill will be voted on by the committee.

Those interested in seeing the markup of the Payments System Protection Act can watch the hearing live at the Financial Services Committee site starting at 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

Frank (D-Mass.) first introduced the Payments System Protection Act as H.R. 5767 in April as a bill to prevent the implementation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

When it went through the markup process, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) added an amendment that sought to have "unlawful Internet gambling" defined before the UIGEA could be implemented as well.

The bill was defeated by the House Financial Services Committee by a tie vote.

With Frank's reintroduction of the Payment System Protection Act, he is focusing on King's idea of defining what constitutes unlawful Internet gambling as well as preventing the UIGEA from covering anything outside of what the Wire Act currently prohibits.

The bill's purpose is to ensure that implementation of proposed UIGEA regulations doesn't cause harm to the payments system.

In essence, Section 2 of the bill will limit the Secretary of the Treasury and the board of governors of the Federal Reserve to applying the UIGEA regulations only to wagering that is specifically prohibited by the Wire Act - namely betting on professional and amateur sporting events.

Section 3 of H.R. 6870 asks that the Treasury and Federal Reserve consult with the Attorney General to develop and implement UIGEA regulations that specifically define "unlawful Internet gambling" and only do so after conducting a full economic impact study of the proposed regulations.

So far Rep. King is the only congressman who has signed on to cosponsor the bill.

The UIGEA prohibits banks and other financial institutions from allowing transactions with illegal online gambling sites. It has yet to be put into force as the Treasury and Federal Reserve struggle to come up with a set of regulations to implement the bill.

Frank and others have argued that the bill puts too much of the responsibility for enforcing the new law on the financial institutions, who will in essence have to act as the police for the new regulations without a clear definition of what constitutes illegal online gambling.

Poker advocates would also like to see an exemption in the regulations for online poker because poker is a skill game and not solely a game of chance.

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