In a textbook case of “not seeing the forest for the trees,” the US House Financial Services Committee voted down a proposal originally meant to prevent the development and enforcement of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, after listening to “emotional” arguments not entirely related to the bill.
In April of this year, Rep. Barney Frank and Rep. Ron Paul presented the (H.R. 5767) seeking to stop the implementation of the UIGEA on the basis of its inherent inapplicability. Frank and Paul’s main argument against implementing UIGEA was the lack of clarity on what constitutes an “illegal gaming transaction” and the absence of clear guidelines for financial institutions on how to detect and block these transactions. At the time, Rep. Frank declared that, “These regulations are impossible to implement without placing a significant burden on the payments system and financial institutions, and while I do disagree with the underlying objective of the Act, I believe that even those who agree with it ought to be concerned about the regulations’ impact.”
In its original form the bill gathered some support, as reported in our poker news in May, and it also faced some stern opposition from Senators Kyl and Bachus, who penned several open letters and editorials .
As a last-ditch attempt to save the bill, Rep. Peter King from New York proposed a substantial amendment to the bill, which would have required the clarification of the UIGEA in order to make it operational.
In the end, it looks like emotion won over reason: although the point in question was the applicability of the UIGEA and its potential effect on the banking system, arguments about safeguarding youth from gaming managed to split the house in half, for a 32-32 vote that officially put the bill to rest.
Alfonse D’Amato, Chairman of the , spoke for the disappointment of poker players in the US, “It is disappointing to realize that opponents of this legislation still do not truly understand the intent of the bill. It was clear today that those who oppose this bill chose to focus on emotional and non-germane issues, such as the harmful impact of gambling on children, instead of on the merits of the bill itself. Unfortunately, debate over the morality of gambling trumped debate on the fact that the UIGEA is completely ineffective and unenforceable.”