New bill seeks to restrict UIGEA

American justice

Congressmen Barney Frank and Ron Paul moved to diminish the effect of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act this week by introducing a bill that would restrict the ability of the authorities to ban online gambling.

H.R. 5767 would prohibit the Department of Treasury and Federal Reserve System from proposing, prescribing or implementing any regulations related to the current ban on Internet gambling, as required by the UIGEA.

"These regulations are impossible to implement without placing a significant burden on the payments system and financial institutions," said Frank in a statement on Friday.

The controversial UIGEA was passed in October of 2006 as a part of the SAFE Port Act. Detractors say that not only is the act impossible to enforce, but the government is missing out on billions of dollars of tax revenue it could collect if the industry was regulated.

Paul took issue with the online gambling bill based on two premises: first, that Americans should have the ability to do with their money as they see fit and secondly, that the government should not interfere with the Internet.

"This is another pernicious trend that has accelerated in the aftermath of the Patriot Act, the deputization of private businesses to perform intrusive enforcement and surveillance functions that the federal government is unwilling to perform on its own," Paul said in a statement.

H.R. 5767 already has allies, including the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative (SSIGI), which works to protect the rights of individuals who wish to gamble online while ensuring there are proper safeguards in place.

"The Frank-Paul bill would stop the U.S. government from taking any further steps on regulations that would require all of the country's financial institutions to block Internet gambling payments," said SSIGI spokesman Jeff Sandman. "It's a bold move, but a necessary one, in light of the warnings from the Treasury and Federal Reserve that they did not know how to write regulations to solve the problems created by UIGEA."

Frank has already introduced a bill titled the Internet Gambling Regulations and Enforcement Act (H.R. 2046) that would essentially repeal UIGEA. The bill already has 48 cosponsors.

"I want to get it undone," said Frank in regard to UIGEA. "If an adult in this country, with his or her own money, wants to engage in an activity that harms no one, how dare we prohibit it? Adults are entitled to do with their own money what they want."

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