Opinions surface about proposed UIGEA rules

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It didn't take long for the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act's top opponents to speak up after the Federal Reserve Board and the Department of the Treasury released proposed rules for the new law Monday.

Both the Poker Players Alliance and the Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association issued statements right away Monday reiterating their views that the UIGEA will be a bad move for the nation.

The PPA and its chairman, former senator Alfonse D'Amato, have been working at the federal and state levels to help legalize online poker since the UIGEA was passed into law last year.

After reviewing the proposed rule published Monday by the Treasury and Federal Reserve Board, D'Amato had this to say:

"Poker players, the American banking community, and anyone who values Internet and personal freedoms should be troubled by this intrusive rule.

"Deputizing private U.S. financial institutions to determine what are lawful and unlawful transactions will lead to the monitoring and blocking of the personal and lawful financial transactions of many of their customers who wish to play games of skill, like poker on the Internet."

D'Amato points out that this policy seems more like the actions of Iran than America, and the PPA is hopeful that common sense will prevail before the rules are finalized.

"Congress should act immediately to pass legislation which will effectively regulate Internet poker and provide the proper safeguards to prevent minors from participating in Internet gaming, preserve states' rights and ensure privacy and security of online transactions," he said.

While the PPA is fighting at the grassroots level to get the law changed before it's fully enacted, iMEGA has gone the legal route by filing a lawsuit against the UIGEA.

The organization is claiming the UIGEA infringes on citizens' constitutional rights. A judge in New Jersey recently heard arguments from iMEGA for a temporary restraining order to prevent implementation of the UIGEA until the lawsuit is wrapped up.

In response to the UIGEA beginning to move forward again, the organization issued the following statement:

"The regulations proposed under UIGEA continue a trend to regulate our Internet freedoms by passing the responsibility to define legal and illegal purposes behind a web-based financial transaction on to neutral third parties, who then become victims of the system.

"In this case the victims caught between the government's criminal punishment and ill-defined regulations are the payment system providers - credit card companies, banks, third party payment clearing houses."

iMEGA also points out that the regulations, which are supposed to provide for a system that identifies legal transactions between persons who are allowed to enjoy interactive games, virtually condemn the system to elimination because of the criminal penalties possible if the payment system providers guess wrong about the transactions.

"There are no standards in the proposed UIGEA regulations which allow companies or individuals to safely navigate the inconsistent laws or ever-changing web business environment," iMEGA said.

"We believe that our government can - and must - do better if the Internet is be continue to be the engine for growth and prosperity for all of us. That being so, iMEGA is confident that the important and fundamental rights for which we are fighting in federal court in New Jersey will be vindicated."

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