Adding yet another episode to the ongoing UIGEA saga, the American Banking Association (ABA) has released an 11 page document describing their concern over the controversial legislation. Up until recently, the ABA claimed to have a neutral stance regarding the UIGEA, but they have now turned against it, to the joy of poker players across the country.

This particular event began two weeks ago when a letter by Republican Senators John E. Sununu (NH) and Pete Domenici (NM) written for the heads of the Treasury and Federal Reserve brought attention to implementation concerns the ABA had been having with the UIGEA. The ABA had explored several significant problems which they had found with the UIGEA, raising issues so serious that the successful implementation of the UIGEA itself is up for debate.

PokerNews was able to obtain a copy of the ABA’s official response to the government. The document was submitted in December 2007, but received little media attention at the time. It was authored by the Director of the ABA’s Center for Regulatory Compliance, Richard R. Riese. Contributing to the document was Nessa Feddis who is the Senior Federal Counsel for the same division as Riese.

The ABA has a near monopoly over America’s banking system; its member banks employ over two million workers and manage over 95% of the $12.7 trillion in assets that are overseen by the US banking system.Therefore, if they have a problem with the UIGEA the American government they will surely have a receptive attitude. In its comments about the UIGEA, the ABA raised nine crucial points and urged “several changes or clarifications to the proposal to enable banks to execute some form of feasible program.”

A close reading of the text reveals that although their politically sensitive language may not seem too forward, they are obviously highly skeptical of the validity and implementation of the UIGEA in its present form. "ABA believes that the proposal, in large part due to the nature of the statute itself, will fail to create a practical process for intercepting prohibited conduct that maintains an efficiently functioning payments system." Following this statement is another, harsher one that reads, "(W)e believe that UIGEA will in the end catch more banks in a compliance trap and do greater damage to the competitiveness of the American payments system, than it will stop gambling enterprises from profiting on illegal wagering."

Three of the most serious flaws which the ABA found with the UIGEA rules are:

"(1) the definition of unlawful Internet gambling in the Prohibition leaves the vague definition of the Act uncured and therefore renders compliance virtually impossible;
"(2) the intractable problem of identifying or intercepting cross-border gambling activities and tainted correspondent relationships has not been adequately solved by the proposal; and
"(3) the uncertain standard for knowledge that triggers blocking is too indefinite to be practically operative."

The ABA maintained during the letter that the sheer vagueness of the legislation and also criticized the government for putting a banking system in the position of financial “police”. Perhaps the harshest passage of the entire letter reads as follows:

"In other words, in the view of the drafters of the legislation, all the sophistication of the FBI, Secret Service, and other police computerized detection systems and investigative expertise devoted to fighting terrorism and financial crime are inadequate to the task of apprehending the unlawful gambling business or confiscating its revenues. ABA believes that punting this obligation to the participants in the U.S. payment system is an unprecedented delegation of governmental responsibility with no prospect of practical success in exchange for all the burden it imposes."

This news piece has reached the media only days after a major court case involving iMEGA was overruled, reluctantly, by a Federal Court judge. UIGEA beware, not only has the poker world teamed up against you, the government and banking system is now turning.

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