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Lawmaker Introduces Bill to Help Clarify UIGEA

Bills Singles Out Sports Betting


A Texas lawmaker has introduced a bill that, if passed, would give some clarity to what kind of online activities the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) could be used to stop.

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) introduced H.R. 6663, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Clarification and Implementation Act of 2008 on July 30, days after four of his colleagues sent a letter asking the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve Board to provide clarification on exactly what the UIGEA should consider online gambling.

Sessions’ bill is a member of Congress’ first attempt at defining exactly what the UIGEA calls “unlawful Internet gambling," which is as far as the UIGEA goes to define the illegal activities that the bill’s authors want stopped.

The Federal Reserve Board and the Treasury Department, the two government bodies given the task of writing the rules and regulations that banks will eventually use to search for and stop transactions related to unlawful Internet gambling, are finding their job extremely difficult because of the lack of clarity.

Sessions’ bill singles out only one facet of the online gaming industry: sports betting. If passed, his bill would leave no doubt that taking online sports bets — as well as facilitating the transactions used to fund these activities — is illegal.

According to H.R. 6663, “No provision of this Act, or any amendment made by this Act, shall be construed as clarifying or implying that Internet bets or wagers, other than sports bets or wagers, which were accepted subsequent to October 13, 2006, are in violation of Federal law.”

Sessions gave several reason why he feels online sports betting should be stopped by the UIGEA. Some of his reasons are that sports wagering is illegal in 49 or the 50 states, the potential for both professional and amateur sporting events to be corrupted, and the fact that all federal Internet gambling prosecutions have involved sports betting (according to the bill, this “creates a lack of authoritative court decisions on the applicability of other federal criminal statutes to Internet poker and casino-style gambling”).

These prosecutions started before the UIGEA was passed in October 2006 using existing federal laws that specifically prohibit taking bets over state lines, laws that were designed to help fight organized crime in America in the 1960s. These laws are still being used to prosecute executives who owned either online sports books or the eWallets that helped fund them.

The Treasury and Reserve Board are still in the process of revising the UIGEA rules it introduced last fall. By officials’ own admissions, employees are having a difficult time with this task because of the great many gray areas and the lack of case history pertaining to online gambling. Without these rules, the UIGEA cannot be used to stop banking transactions used for unlawful Internet gambling.

Tags: poker law


14 years ago

This would be landbreaking! Finally a law that would say online poker is not illegal! LETS ALL HOPE AND PRAY THAT THIS PASSES (of course unless you make a lot of sports bets online)