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UIGEA Regulations Issued: Still Vague and Problematic

Written by:
Guest
Published on:
Nov/12/2008
UIGEA

Nov. 12, 2008 - The US Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve System today released the final regulations for the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA). Volumes of testimony about the law's vagueness and practical unworkability from both within and without the administration, most notably from the US banking sector, upon which the burden for enforcing UIGEA will fall, appears not have swayed regulators, as the published regulations differed little from the draft version that had been the subject of debate for more than a year.

"Again, a precise definition for 'unlawful Internet gambling' is missing from the regulations," said Joe Brennan Jr., chairman of  the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA), in Washington DC. "Regulators have left it to our country's banks to determine what constitutes 'unlawful Internet gambling', and that is simply not what banks are set up to do. US banks are not law enforcement agencies, and they should not be put in this position by our government."

iMEGA is currently challenging the underlying law in the US 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals (iMEGA v. Keisler, et al), contending that UIGEA should be declared "void for vagueness" by the court and overturned.

"It is not possible for our banks and credit card companies to reconcile so many differing  state and federal laws on what is considered legal and illegal forms of gambling," said Brennan. "Congress declined to end all ambiguity by refusing to define 'unlawful Internet gambling'. Now banks and credit card companies are being told they have to police these transactions, that they have to guess correctly as to which are and which are not illegal, and - should they guess wrong - assume all of the liability in the form of sanctions. How can they possibly operate fairly under that kind of threat?"

Although Treasury and the Federal Reserve agree in the regulations that, with the complex framework of gambling laws in the United States, institutions in other countries will not reasonably be able to determine which transactions are unlawful under applicable U.S. law, the agencies do not believe any such difficulty will be encountered by US institutions.

"The Treasury and Federal Reserve have essentially made our "vagueness" argument (to the 3rd Circuit) for us with these regulations," said Brennan.

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