US Internet Gambling Future Still Questionable

Published on: February 11, 2009 

Even though former President Bush tried to completely bar internet gambling during his last days in office in November, it seems that the future of Internet gambling in the United States is still questionable.  The statement came from a Nevada regulator on Tuesday, January 10, 2009.  Dennis Neilander, the chairman of the state Gaming Control Board told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that without some form of court clarification or clarification from Congress, most states, including Nevada, will not have to add Internet games to the ones they regulate.

According the Bush administration’s November ruling, the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve were to require that all financial companies have in place procedures to prevent any form of payment that stemmed from Internet gambling activity of any kind.  Englander noted in his conversation with the media that the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Barney Frank, a huge advocate of online gambling regulation, also has a pending measure waiting to be deliberated that would scrap the 2006 law that changed and is now serving as the basis for the November rule.

The sad part about the whole situation is that the original 2006 ruling in the port security bill – yes, the UIGEA – is that the government and the ruling does not clearly define what is considered ‘unlawful Internet gambling’.  Banks and financial institutions have been complaining that they have been forced into a law enforcement role with absolutely no guidelines whatsoever.  Not even Congress could define what they were trying to prevent from happening.  All it said was that it was ‘prohibiting financial institutions from accepting payments from credit cards, checks or electronic fund transfers to settle online wagers.’

Bush’s rushed laws in 2006 and now at the end of 2008 had been looked upon by lawmakers as the former President’s embarkation of a ‘prohibitionist crusade against Internet gaming’ that led laws that were flawed and rules being issued ‘at the very last minute’.  With over $16 billion yearly in online gambling revenue, the Unites States had been supplying half of that amount to the gaming industry each year.

So far President Obama has not really stated which side of the fence he is on about this issue with so many others vying for his time.  At this point, it remains to be seen if the UIGEA will be removed as law or reworded in such a way that everyone interested in or who is currently gambling online knows what they will and will not be able to do.

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