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Mandatory UIGEA Enforcement Delayed by Six Months...By Hartley Henderson

As was reported on some poker websites last week, the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board today agreed to delay mandatory UIGEA enforcement by 6 months to the a new June 1, 2010 deadline. Without going into details, a spokesman for the Treasury stated the delay was necessary. To anyone who followed the UIGEA's progress, the postponement doesn't come as a huge shock, although as late as last week it appeared the Federal government wasn't prepared to make any changes to the deadline. The parties that can likely be thanked for the new deadline are the Poker Player's Alliance, the American Banking Association and Barney Frank. The PPA, headed by former senator Alfonse D'Amato, attributed their organization, the National Thoroughbred Association and the American Greyhound Track Association for the new deadline, but clearly the NTRA has a different agenda. After all, given the rhetoric from the NTRA in the past, one can only assume the NTRA's opposition to the UIGEA regulations is that they don't go far enough. Their main objective has always been to ensure that no gambling other than horse racing conducted within the U.S. will ever be permitted online. They were one of the big proponents of the UIGEA from the beginning. The PPA and its 2 million members have quite a bit of political clout, and Barney Frank's bills to eliminate the UIGEA now have many cosponsors, mostly from the Democrat side of the floor. The American Banking Association, while not being very verbal of late, made it quite clear about its opposition to this law, and particularly the regulations that force the banks to be the internet police. It's a safe assumption that a lobby from the ABA was prominent in ensuring that the bank's concerns were well known to the Feds.

The delay doesn't mean the death of the UIGEA, but it does give Frank, the PPA and the Federal government some time to learn more about the ramifications of implementing this bill and to perhaps find a solution that would make most of the opponents happy. Furthermore, the new deadline will come up in the midst of midterm elections, so, almost certainly, if nothing is achieved by June 1, the mandatory enforcement will be delayed again. After all, this bill will be furthest from the minds of most Senators and Congressmen. More importantly, it gives the PPA the opportunity to show its power once again. As many will recall, the PPA almost single handedly cost Jim Leach re-election in 2006, as the lobby group convinced poker players to come out in force and vote against the incumbent. Perhaps if the PPA is as successful with a similar campaign in the 2010 midterm elections against Senators or Congressmen that are pushing hard for the UIGEA implementation, it will convince those that are in danger of losing their seat to step away from their hard line stances.

As I've mentioned many times before, the UIGEA was a cynical, predominantly Republican bill that was attached to an unrelated piece of legislation for the sole purpose of pandering to the religious right and hard lined Republicans who don't believe individuals have the right to make their own decisions. It's time for the Obama government to show that it won't be intimidated by the Republicans anymore and instead will work for those that helped get him and his party elected in 2008. He can start by convincing the Treasury and Federal Reserve to abandon this bill and work on a more liberal piece of legislation that doesn't penalize banks and constituents who like to gamble from the privacy of their own homes. A good start would be to take more seriously the bills that are already on the table from Barney Frank and Robert Wexler.

Hartley Henderson

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