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US government delays enforcement of Internet gambling ban

[JURIST] Enforcement of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) [HR 4411 materials] was delayed Friday until June 1, 2010, according to a joint statement [text, PDF] from the US Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve [official websites]. The UIGEA, which bans banks and financial institutions from intentionally accepting payments from credit cards, checks, or electronic fund transfers related to unlawful Internet bets was scheduled to take effect on December 1, 2009. The delay will give US banks and financial institutions six months to get in compliance with the new rules designed to curb Internet gambling. The joint statement, which elaborates on the reasons for postponement, states that:

The petitioners assert that an extension of the compliance date is necessary because a significant number of regulated entities will not have in place the necessary policies and procedures by the current December 1, 2009 compliance date. Petitioners assert that many small regulated entities do not have the resources necessary to develop and implement appropriate policies and procedures by the December 1, 2009 compliance date and cite the possibility of confusion regarding the term “unlawful Internet gambling.”

The petition for postponement came largely from financial institutions, the American Bankers Association and members of Congress. House Financial Services Committee [official website] Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) [official website], who is opposed to the UIGEA, has praised [press release] the move as an opportunity to implement legislation to overturn the act. Frank is responsible for introducing the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act [HR 2267 materials] into the House in May.

The Act was signed into law [JURIST report] by then-president George W. Bush in October 2006 amid controversy over the effects of the bill on US bettors and foreign companies. The US House of Representatives passed the UIGEA [JURIST report] in July 2006, and included exemptions for Internet gambling on horse racing and state lotteries.

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